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•♦■^■» ^* 


My only kingdom is here . 
with me, Ailsa . . 

. . in this dear woman's arms. Walk 
. as my queen and my wife " 




Detective Stories 



Author of "Cleek the Master Detective", 
"Cleek's Government Cases** etc 



Copyright, igi2, igij, igi4, by 


All rights reserved, including that of 

translation into foreign languages, 

including the Scandinavian 

9 ss 



Cleek of Scotland Yard 


The Affair of the Man Who Vanished 

MR. MAVERICK NARKOM, Superintendent at Scot- 
land Yard, flung aside the paper he was reading and 
wheeled round in his revolving desk- chair, all alert on the 
instant, like a terrier that scents a rat. 

He knew well what the coming of the footsteps toward his 
private office portended; his messenger was returning at last. 

Good! Now he would get at the facts of the matter, and 
be relieved from the sneers of carping critics and the pin 
pricks of overzealous reporters, who seemed to think that 
the Yard was to blame, and all the forces connected with it 
to be screamed at as incompetents if every evildoer in Lon- 
don was not instantly brought to book and his craftiest 
secrets promptly revealed. 

Gad! Let them take on his job, then, if they thought the 
thing so easy! Let them have a go at this business of stop- 
ping at one's post until two o'clock in the morning trying to 
patch up the jumbled fragments of a puzzle of this sort, if 
they regarded it as such child's play — finding an assassin 
whom nobody had seen and who struck with a method 
which neither medical science nor legal acumen could trace 
or name. Then, by James ... 

The door opened and closed, and Detective Sergeant 
Petrie stepped into the room, removing his hat and stand- 
ing at attention. 


''Well?" rapped out the superintendent, in the sharp 
staccato of nervous impatience. "Speak up ! It was a false 
alarm, was it not? " 

"No, sir. It's even worse than reported. Quicker and 
sharper than any of the others. He's gone, sir." 

"Gone? Good God! you don't mean dead?^^ 

"Yes, sir. Dead as Julius Caesar. Total collapse about 
twenty minutes after my arrival and went off like that" — 
snapping his fingers and giving his hand an outward fling. 
"Same way as the others, only, as I say, quicker, sir; and 
with no more trace of v/hat caused it than the doctors were 
able to discover in the beginning. That makes five in the 
same mysterious way, Superintendent, and not a ghost of a 
clue yet. The papers will be ringing vath it to-morrow." 

"Ringing with it? Can they 'ring' any more than they 
are doing already?" Narkom threw up both arms and 
laughed the thin, mirthless laughter of utter despair. "Can 
they say anything worse than they have said? Blame any 
more unreasonably than they have blamed? 'It is small 
solace for the overburdened taxpayer to reflect that he 
maybe done to death at any hour of the night, and that the 
heads of the institution he has so long and so consistently 
supported are capable of giving his stricken family nothing 
more in return than the "Dear me! dear me!" of utter 
bewilderment; and to prove anew that the efficiency of our 
boasted police-detective system may be classed under the 
head of "Brilliant Fiction."' That sort of thing, day after 
day — as if I had done nothing but pile up failures of this 
kind since I came into office. No heed of the past six years' 
brilliant success. No thought for the manner in which the 
pohce departments of other countries were made to sit up 
and to marvel at our methods. Two months' failure and 
that doesn't count ! By the Lord Harry ! I'd give my head 
to make those newspaper fellows eat their words — gad, 


"Why don't you, then, sir?" Petrie dropped his voice a 
tone or two and looked round over the angle of his shoulder 
as he spoke; then, recollecting the time and the improba- 
bility of anybody being within earshot, took heart of grace 
and spoke up bolder. ''There's no use bhnking the fact, 
Mr. Narkom ; it was none of us — none of the regular force, 
I mean — that made the record of those years what it was. 
That chap Cleek was the man that did it, sir. You know 
that as well as I. I don't know whether you've fallen out 
with him or not; or if he's ofT on some secret mission that 
keeps him from handling Yard matters these days. But if 
he isn't, take my advice, sir, and put him on this case at 

''Don't talk such rot!" flung out Narkom, impatiently. 
"Do you think I'd have waited until now to do it if it could 
be done? Put him on the case, indeed! How the devil 
am I to do it when I don't know where on earth to find him? 
He cleared out directly after that Panther's Paw case six 
months ago. Gave up his lodgings, sacked his housekeeper, 
laid off his assistant. Dollops, and went the Lord knows 
where and why." 

"My hat! Then that's the reason we never hear any 
more of him in Yard matters, is it? I wondered! Disap- 
peared, eh? Well, w^ell! You don't think he can have 
gone back to his old lay — back to the wrong 'uns and his 
old 'Vanishing Cracksman's' tricks, do you, sir?" 

"No, I don't. No backslider about that chap, by James! 
He's not built that way. Last time I saw him he was out 
shopping with Miss Ailsa Lome — the girl w^ho redeemed 
him — and judging from their manner toward each other, I 
rather fancied — well, never mind! That's got nothing 
to do with you. Besides, I feel sure that if they had, Mrs. 
Narkom and I would have been invited. All he said was 
that he was going to take a holiday. He didn't say why, and 
he didn't say where. I wish to heaven I'd asked him. I 



could have kicked myself for not having done so when that 
she-devil of a Frenchwoman managed to slip the leash and 
get off scot free." 

."Mean that party we nabbed in the house at Roehamp- 
ton along with the Mauravanian baron who got up that 
Silver Snare fake, don't you, sir? Margot, the Queen of 
the Apaches. Or, at least, that's who you declared she was, 
I recollect." 

"And that's who I still declare she was!" rapped in Nar- 
kom, testily, "and what I'll continue to say while there's a 
breath left in me. I never actually saw the woman until 
that night, it is true, but Cleek told me she was Margot; 
and who should know better than he, when he was once 
her pal and partner? But it's one of the infernal drawbacks 
of British justice that a crook's word's as good as an officer's 
if it's not refuted by actual proof. The woman brought a 
dozen witnesses to prove that she was a respectable Aus- 
trian lady on a visit to her son in England; that the motor in 
which she was riding broke down before that Roehampton 
house about an hour before our descent upon it, and that 
she had merely been invited to step in and wait while the 
repairs were being attended to by her chauffeur. Of course 
such a chauffeur was forthcoming when she was brought up 
before the magistrate ; and a garage-keeper was produced to 
back up his statement; so that when the Mauravanian 
prisoner 'confessed' from the dock that what the lady said 
was true, that settled it. I couldn't swear to her identity, 
and Cleek, who could, was gone — the Lord knows where; 
upon which the magistrate admitted the woman to bail and 
delivered her over to the custody of her solicitors pending 
my efforts to get somebody over from Paris to identify her. 
And no sooner is the vixen set at large than — presto ! — 
away she goes, bag and baggage, out of the country, and 
not a man in England has seen hide nor hair of her since. 
Gad ! if I could but have got word to Cleek at that time — 


just to put him on his guard against her. But I couldn't. 
IVe no more idea than a child where the man went — not 

"It's pretty safe odds to lay one's head against a brass 
farthing as to where the woman went, though, I reckon," 
said Petrie, stroking his chin. "Bunked it back to Paris, 
I expect, sir, and made for her hole Hke any other fox. I 
hear them French 'tecs are as keen to get hold of her as we 
were, but she slips 'em like an eel. Can't lay hands on her, 
and couldn't swear to her identity if they did. Not one 
in a hundred of 'em's ever seen her to be sure of her, I'm 

'"No, not one. Even Cleek himself knows nothing of 
who and what she really is. He confessed that to me. 
Their knowledge of each other began when they threw in 
their lot together for the first time, and ceased when they 
parted. Yes, I suppose she did go back to Paris, Petrie — • 
it would be her safest place; and there'd be rich pickings 
there for her and her crew just now. The city is en fetCj 
you know." 

"Yes, sir. King Ulric of Mauravania is there as the 
guest of the Republic. Funny time for a king to go vis- 
iting another nation, sir, isn't it, when there's a revolu- 
tion threatening in his own? Dunno much about the ways 
of kings. Superintendent, but if there was a row coming up 
in my house, you can bet all you're worth I'd be mighty 
sure to stop at home." 

"Diplomacy, Petrie, diplomacy! he may be safer where 
he is. Rumours are afloat that Prince What's-his-name, 
son and heir of the late Queen Karma, is not only still 
living, but has, during the present year, secretly visited 
Mauravania in person. I see by the papers that that rip- 
ping old royalist. Count Irma, is imphcated in the revolu- 
tionary movement and that, by the king's orders, he has 
been arrested and imprisoned in the Fort of Sulberga on a 


charge of sedition. Grand old johnny, that — I hope no 
harm comes to him. He was in England not so long ago. 
Came to consult Cleek about some business regarding a lost 
pearl, and I took no end of a fancy to him. Hope he pulls 
out all right; but if he doesn't — oh, well, we can't bother 
over other people's troubles — we've got enough of our own 
just now with these mysterious murders going on, and the 
newspapers hammering the Yard day in and day out. Gad ! 
how I wish I knew how to get hold of Cleek — how I wish I 

"Can't you find somebody to put you on the lay, sir? 
some friend of his — somebody that's seen him, or maybe 
heard from him since you have?" 

"Oh, don't talk rubbish!" snapped Narkom, with a short, 
derisive laugh. "Friends, indeed! What friends has he 
outside of myself? Who knows him any better than I know 
him — and what do I know of him, at that? Nothing • — not 
where he comes from; not what his real name may be; not 
a living thing but that he chooses to call himself Hamilton 
Cleek and to fight in the interest of the law as strenuously 
as he once fought against it. And where will I find a man 
who has 'seen' him, as you suggest — or would know if he 
had seen him — w^hen he has that amazing birth gift to 
fall back upon? You never saw his real face — never in all 
your life. / never saw it but twice, and even I — why, 
he might pass me in the street a dozen times a day and I'd 
never know him if I looked straight into his eyes. He'd 
come hke a shot if he knew I wanted him — gad, yes! But 
he doesn't; and there you are." 

Imagination was never one of Petrie's strong points. His 
mind moved always along well-prepared grooves to time- 
honoured ends. It found one of those grooves and moved 
along it now. 

"Why don't you advertise for him, then?" he suggested. 
*'Put a Personal in the morning papers, sir. Chap like 


that's sure to read the news every day; and it's bound to 
come to his notice sooner or later. Or if it doesn't, why, 
people will get to knowing that the Yard's lost him and get 
to talking about it and maybe he'll learn of it that way." 

Narkom looked at him. The suggestion was so bald, so 
painfully ordinary and commonplace, that, heretofore, it 
had never occurred to him. To associate Cleek's name 
with the banalities of the everyday Agony Column ; to con- 
nect him with the appeals of the scullery and the methods of 
the raw amateur! The very outrageousness of the thing 
was its best passport to success. 

''By James, I beUeve there's something in that!" he said, 
abruptly. ''If you get people to talking. . . . Well, 
it doesn't matter, so that he hears — so that he finds out I 
want him. You ring up the Daily Mail while I'm scratch- 
ing off an ad. Tell 'em it's simply got to go in the morn- 
ing's issue. I'll give it to them over the line myself in a 

He lurched over to his desk, drove a pen into the ink pot, 
and made such good haste in marshalling his straggling 
thoughts that he had the thing finished before Petrie had 
got farther than "Yes; Scotland Yard. Hold the line, 
please; Superintendent Narkom wants to speak to you." 

The Yard's requests are at all times treated with respect 
and courtesy by the controlling forces of the daily press, so 
it fell out that, late as the hour was, "space" was accorded, 
and, in the morning, half a dozen papers bore this notice 
prominently displayed: ■ 

" Cleek — Where are you? Urgently needed. Communi- 
cate at once. — Maverick Narkom.''^ 

The expected came to pass ; and the unexpected followed 
close upon its heels. The daily press, publishing the full 
account of the latest addition to the already long Hst of 


mysterious murders which, for a fortnight past, had been 
adding nervous terrors to the public mind, screamed afresh 
— as Narkom knew that it would — and went into parox- 
ysms of the Reporters' Disease until the very paper was 
yellow with the froth of it. The afternoon editions were 
still worse — for, between breakfast and lunch time, yet 
another man had fallen victim to the mysterious assassin — 
and sheets pink and sheets green, sheets gray and sheets 
yellow were scattering panic from one end of London to the 
other. The police-detective system of the country was 
rotten! The Government should interfere — must inter- 
fere! It was a national disgrace that the foremost city of 
the civilized world should be terrorized in this appalling 
fashion and the author of the outrages remain undetected! 
Could anything be more appalling? 

It could, and — it was ! When night came and the even- 
ing papers were supplanting the afternoon ones, that some- 
thing ''more appalling" — known hours before to the Yard 
itself — was glaring out on every bulletin and every front 
page in words like these: 





Clarges Street! The old "magic" street of those "ma- 
gic" old times of Cleek, and the Red Limousine, and the 
Riddles that were unriddled for the asking! Narkom 
grabbed the report the instant he heard that name and 
began to read it breathlessly. 

It was the usual station advice ticked through to head- 
quarters and deciphered by the operator there, and it ran 
tersely, thus: 


"4:28 p. M. Attempt made by unknown parties to blow up 
house in Clarges Street, Piccadilly. Partially successful. 
Three persons injured and two killed. No clue to motive. 
Occupants, family from Essex. Only moved in two days ago. 
House been vacant for months previously. Formerly occupied 
by retired seafaring man named Capt. Horatio Burbage, 
who " 

Narkom read no farther. He flung the paper aside with 
a sort of mingled laugh and blub and collapsed into his chair 
with his eyes hidden in the crook of an upthrown arm, and 
the muscles of his mouth twitching. 

''Now I know why he cleared out! Good old Cleek! 
Bully old Cleek 1" he said to himself; and stopped suddenly, 
as though something had got into his throat and half 
choked him. But after a moment or two he jumped to his 
feet and began walking up and down the room, his face 
fairly glowing; and if he had put his thoughts into words 
they would have run like this : 

''Margot's crew, of course. And he must have guessed 
that something of the sort would happen some time if he 
stopped there after that Silver Snare business at Roehamp- 
ton — either from her lot or from the followers of that 
Mauravanian Johnnie who was at the back of it. They 
were after him even in that little game, those two. I won- 
der why? What the dickens, when one comes to think of it, 
could have made the Prime Minister of Mauravania inter- 
est himself in an Apache trick to 'do in' an ex-cracksman? 
Gad! she flies high, sometimes, that Margot! Prime Min- 
ister of Mauravania ! And the fool faced fifteen years hard 
to do the thing and let her get off scot free ! Faced it and — 
took it; and is taking it still, for the sake of helping her 
to wipe off an old score against a reformed criminal. Won- 
der if Cleek ever crossed him in something? Wonder if 
he, too, was on the 'crooked side' once, and wanted to make 
sure of its never being shown up? Oh, well, he got his 


medicine. And so, too, will this unknown murderer who's 
doing the secret killing in London, now that this Clarges 
Street affair is over. Bully old Cleek! Slipped 'em again! 
Had their second shot and missed you I Now you'll come 
out of hiding, old chap, and we shall have the good old times 
once more." 

His eye fell upon the ever-ready telephone. He stopped 
short in his purposeless walking and nodded and smiled to 

*' We'll have you singing your old tune before long, my 
friend," he said, optimistically. "I know my man — gad, 
yes ! He'll let no grass grow under his feet now that this 
thing's over. I shall hear soon — yes, by James I I shall." 

His optim-ism was splendidly rewarded. Not, hov/ever^ 
from the quarter nor in the m^anner he expected. It had 
but just gone hah-past seven when a tap sounded, the door 
of his office swmig inward, and the porter stepped into the 

''Person wanting to speak with you, sir, in private," he 
announced. ''Says it's about some Personal in the morn- 
ing paper." 

" Send him in — send him in at once!" rapped out Nar- 
kom excitedly. "Move sharp; and don't let anybody else 
in until I give the word." 

Then, as soon as the porter had disappeared, he crossed 
the room, twdtched the thick curtains over the window, 
switched on the electric hght, wheeled another big chair 
up beside his desk and, with face aglow, jerked open a 
drawer and got out a cigarette box which had not seen the 
light for weeks. 

Quick as he was, the door opened and shut again before 
the Kd of the box could be thrown back, and into the room 
stepped Cleek's henchman — Dollops. 

"Hullo! You, is it, you blessed young monkey?" said 
Narkom gayly, as he looked up and saw the boy. " Knew 


I'd hear to-day — knew it, by James! Sent you for me, 
has he, eh? Is he coming himself or does he want me to 
go to him? Speak up, and — Good Lord! what's the mat- 
ter with you? What's up? Anything wrong? " 

Dollops had turned the colour of an under-baked biscuit 
and was looking at him with eyes of absolute despair. 

''Sir," he said, moving quickly forward and speaking in 
the breathless manner of a spent runner — ''Sir, I was 
a-hopin' it was a fake, and to hear you speak like that — 
Gawd's truth, guv'ner, you don't mean as it's real, sir, do 
you? That you don't know either? " 

"Know? Know what?" 

"Where he is — wot's become of him? Mr. Cleek, 
the guv'ner, sir. I made sure that you'd know if anybody 
would. That's wot made me come, sir. I'd 'a' gone off me 
bloomin' dot if I hadn't — after you a-puttin' in that Per- 
sonal and him never a-turnin' up like he'd ort. Sir, do you 
mean to say as you don't know where he is, and haven't seen 
him even yet?" 

"No, I've not. Good Lord ! haven't you? " 

"No, sir. I aren't clapped eyes on him since he sent me 
of? to the bloomin' seaside six months ago. All he told me 
when we come to part was that Miss Lome was goin' out 
to India on a short visit to Cap'n and Mrs. 'Awksley — 
Lady Chepstow as was, sir — and that directly she was 
gone he'd be knockin' about for a time on his own, and I 
wasn't to worry over him. I haven't seen hide nor hair of 
him, sir, since that hour.'' 

"Nor heard from him? " Narkom's voice was thick and 
the hand he laid on the chair-back hard shut. 

"Oh, yes, sir, I've heard — I'd have gone off my bloomin' 
dot if I hadn't done that. Heard from him twice. Once 
when he wrote and gimme my orders about the new place 
he's took up the river — four weeks ago. The second time, 
last Friday, sir, when he wrote me the thing that's fetched 


me here — that's been tearin' the heart out of me ever since 
I heard at Charing Cross about wot's happened at Clarges 
Street, sir." 

''And what was that?" 

"Why, sir, he wrote that he'd jist remembered about some 
papers as he'd left behind the wainscot in his old den, and 
that he'd get the key and drop in at the old Clarges Street 
house on the way 'ome. Said he'd arrive in England either 
yesterday afternoon or this one, sir; but whichever it was, 
he'd wire me from Dover before he took the train. And he 
never done it, sir — my Gawd I he never done it in this 

" Good God!" Narkom fxung out the words in a sort of 
panic, his Ups twitching, his whole body shaking, his face 
like the face of a dead man. 

"He never done it, I tell you!" pursued Dollops in an 
absolute tremble of fright. "I haven't never had a blessed 
line; and now this here awful thing has happened. And 
if he done what he said he was a-goin' to do — if he come to 
town and went to that house " 

If he said more, the clanging of a bell drowned it com- 
pletely. Narkom had turned to his desk and was ham- 
mering furiously upon the call gong. A scurry of flying 
feet came up the outer passage, the door opened in a flash, 
and the porter was there. And behind him Lennard, the 
chaufteur, who guessed from that excited summons that 
there would be a call for hhn. 

"The limousine — as quick as you can get her round!'* 
said Narkom in the sharp staccato of excitement. "To the 
scene of the explosion in Clarges Street first, and if the bodies 
of the victims have been removed, then to the mortuary 
without an instant's delay." 

He dashed into the inner room, grabbed his hat and coat 
down from the hook where they were hanging, and dashed 
back again like a man in a panic. 


*^Come on!" he said, beckoning to Dollops as he flung 
open the door and ran out into the passage. ''If they've 

' done him in' — him I — if they Ve ' got him' after all 

Come on ! come on ! " 

Dollops "came on" with a rush; and two minutes later 
the red limousine swung out into the roadway and took the 
distance between Scotland Yard and Clarges Street at a 
miie-a-minute cHp. 

Arrival at the scene of the disaster elicited the fact that 
the remains — literally ''remains," since they had been 
well-nigh blown to fragments — had, indeed, been removed 
to the mortuary; so thither Narkom and Dollops followed 
them, their fears being in no wise Kghtened by learning that 
the bodies were undeniably those of men. As the features 
of both victims were beyond any possibility of recognition, 
identification could, of course, be arrived at only through 
bodily marks; and Dollops's close association with Cleek 
rendered him particularly capable of speaking with author- 
ity regarding those of his master. It was, therefore, a 
source of unspeakable dehght to both Narkom and himself, 
when, after close and minute examination of the remains, 
he was able to say, positively, "Sir, whatever's become of 
him, praise God, neither of these here two dead men is him, 
bless his heart!" 

"So they didn't get him after all!" supplemented Nar- 
kom, laughing for the first time in hours. " Still, it cannot 
be doubted that whoever committed this outrage was after 
him, since the people who have suffered are complete stran- 
gers to the locality and had only just moved into the house. 
No doubt the person or persons who threw the bomb knew of 
Cleek's having at one time lived there as ' Captain Burbage' 
— Margot did, for one — and finding the house still oc- 
cupied, and not knowing of his removal — why, there you 


*'Margot!" The name brought back all Dollops' ban- 
ished fears. He switched round on the superintendent and 
laid a nervous clutch on his sleeve. "And Margot's 'lay' 
is Paris. Sir, I didn't tell you, did I, that it was from there 
the guv'ner wrote those two letters to me?" 

* ' Cinnamon ! From Paris ? ' ' 

"Yes, sir. He didn't say from wot part of the city nor wot 
he was a-doin' there, anyways, but — my hat! Ksten here, 
sir. They' re there — them Mauravanian johnnies — and 
the Apaches and Margot there, too, and you know 
how both lots has their knife into him. I dunno wot 
the Mauravanians is got against him, sir (he never tells 
no thin' to nobody, he don't), but most like it's summink he 
done to some of 'em that time he went out there about the 
lost pearl; but they re after him, and the Apaches is after 
him, and between the two ! . . . Guv'ner 1" — his voice 
rose thin and shrill — "guv'ner, if one lot don't get him_, 
the other may; and — sir — there's Apaches in London this 
very night. I know! I've seen 'em." 

"Seen them? When? Where?" 

"At Charing Cross station, sir, jist before I went to the 
Yard to see you. As I hadn't had no telegram from the 
guv'ner, like I was promised, I went there on the off chance, 
hopin' to meet him when the boat train come in. And 
there I see 'em, sir, a-loungin' round the platform where the 
Dover train goes out at nine to catch the night boat back to 
Calais, sir. I spotted 'em on the instant — from their 
walk, their way of carryin' of theirselves, their manner of 
wearin' of their bloomin' hair. Laughin' among themselves 
they was and lookin' round at the entrance every now and 
then hke as they was expectin' some one to come and join 
'em; and I see, too, as they was a-goin' back to where they 
come from, 'cause they'd the return halves of their tickets in 
their hatbands. One of 'em, he buys a paper at the book- 
stall and sees summink in it as tickled him wonderful, for I 


see nim go up to the others and point it out to 'em, and 
then the whole lot begins to larf like blessed hyenas. I 
spotted wot the paper was and the place on the page the 
blighter was a-pointin' at, so I went and bought one myself 
to see wot it was. Sir, it was that there Personal of yours. 
The minnit I read that, I makes a dash for a taxi, to go to you 
at once, sir, and jist as I does so, a newsboy runs by me v/ith 
a bill on his chest tellin' about the explosion; and then, sir, I 
fair went off me dot." 

They were back on the pavement, within sight of the lim- 
ousine, when the boy said this. Narkom brought the car 
to his side with one excited word, and fairly wrenched open 
the door. 

"To Charing Cross station — as fast as you can streak 
it!" he said, excitedly. "The last train for the night boat 
leaves at nine sharp. Catch it, if you rack the motor to 

" Crumbs! A minute and a half!" commented Lennard, 
as he consulted the clock dial beside him; then, just waiting 
for Narkom and Dollops to jump into the vehicle, he brought 
her head round with a swing, threw back the clutch, and let 
her go full tilt. 

But even the best of motors cannot accomplish the im- 
possible. The gates were closed, the signal down, the last 
train already outside the station when they reached it, and 
not even the mandate of the law might hope to stay it or to 
call it back. 

"Plenty of petrol?" Narkom faced round as he spoke 
and looked at Lennard. 

"Plenty, sir." 

"All right — heat it! The boat sails from Dover at 
eleven. I've got to catch it. Understand?" 

"Yes, sir. But you could wire down and have her held 
over till we get there, Superintendent." 

Not for the world! She must sail on time; I must get 



aboard without being noticed — without some persons I'm 
following having the least cause for suspicion. Beat that 
train — do you hear me? — heat it ! I want to get there 
and get aboard that boat before the others arrive. Do you 
want any further incentive than that? If so, here it is for 
you : Mr. Cleek's in Paris ! Mr. Cleek's in danger ! " 

"Mr. Cleek? God's truth! Hop in sir, hop in! I'll 
have you there ahead of that train if I dash down the Admir- 
alty Pier in flames from front to rear. Just let me get to the 
open road, sir, and I'll show you something to ma£e you 
sit up." 

He did. Once out of the track of all traffic, and with the 
lights of the city well at his back, he strapped his goggles 
tight, jerked his cap down to his eyebrows, and leaned over 
the wheel. 

"For Mr. Cleek — do you hear?" he said, addressing the 
car as if it were a human being. "Now, then, show what 
you're made of! There! Take your head! Now go, you 
vixen! GO!" 

There was a sudden roar, a sudden leap; then the car 
shot forward as though all the gales of all the universe were 
sweeping it on, and the wild race to the coast began. 

Narkom jerked down the bHnds, turned on the Hght, and 
flung open the locker, as they pounded on. 

"Dip in. Get something that can be made to fit you," 
he said to Dollops. "We can't risk any of those fellows 
identifying you as the chap who was hanging round the 
station to-night. Toss me over that wig — the gray one — • 
in the far corner there. God knows what we're on the track 
of, but if it leads to Cleek I'll follow it to the end of time!" 
Then, Hfting his voice until it sounded above the motor's 
roar, "Faster, Lennard, faster!" he called. "Give it to 
her ! give it to her ! We've got to beat that train if it kills 


They did beat it. The engine's light was not even in 


sight when the bright glare of the moon on the Channel's 
waters flashed up out of the darkness before them; nor was 
the sound of the train's coming even faintly audible as 
yet, when, a few minutes later, the limousine swung down 
the incKne and came to a standstill within a stone's throw 
of the entrance to the pier, at whose extreme end the packet 
lay, with gangways down and fires up and her huge bulk 
rising and falling with the movements of the waves. 

^'Beat her, you see, sir," said Lennard, chuckhng as he got 
down and opened the door for the superintendent to alight. 
*' Better not go any nearer, sir, with the car. There's a 
chap down there standing by the gangplank and he seems 
interested in us from the way he's watching. Jumped up 
like a shot and came down the gangplank the instant he 
heard us coming. Better do the rest of the journey afoot, 
sir, and make a pretence of paying me — as if I was a public 
taxi. What'll I do? Stop here until morning? " 

^'Yes. Put up at a garage; and if I don't return by the 
first boat, get back to town. Meantime, cut off somewhere 
and ring up the Yard. Tell 'em where I've gone. Now 
then. Dollops, come on!" 

A moment later the limousine had swung off into the 
darkness and disappeared, and what might properly have 
been taken for a couple of English curates on their way to a 
Continental holiday moved down the long pier between the 
glimmering and inadequate lamps to the waiting boat. 
But long before they reached it the figure at the gangplank 
— the tall, erect figure of a man whom the most casual 
observer must have recognized as one who had known mili- 
tary training — had changed its alert attitude and was 
sauntering up and down as if, when they came nearer and 
the light allowed him to see what they were, he had lost all 
interest in them and their doings. Narkom gave the man 
a glance from the tail of his eye as they went up the gang- 
plank and boarded the boat, and brief as that glance was, 


it was sufficient to assure him of two things: First, that the 
man was not only strikingly handsome but bore himselt 
with an air which spoke of culture, birth, position; second^ 
that he was a foreigner, with the fair hair and the shghtly 
hooked nose which was so characteristic of the Maurava- 

With Dollops at his side, Narkom slunk aft, where the 
lights were less brilKant and the stern of the boat hung over 
the dark, still waters, and pausing there, turned and looked 
back at the waiting man. 

A French sailor was moving past in the darkness. He 
stopped the man and spoke to him. 

*'Tell me," he said, slipping a shilling into the fellow's 
hand, ''do you happen to know who that gentleman is, 
standing on the pier there?" 

''Yes, m'sieur. He is equerry to his Majesty King Ulric 
of Mauravania. He has crossed with us frequently during 
his Majesty ^s sojourn in Paris." 

"Gawd's truth, sir," whispered Dollops, plucking ner- 
vously at the superintendent's sleeve as the sailor, after 
touching his cap with his forefinger, passed on. "Apaches 
at one end and them Mauravanian johnnies at the other! 
I tell you they're a-workin' hand in hand for some reason — 
workin' against him!^' 

Narkom lifted a silencing hand and turned to move away 
where there would be less Ukelihood of anything they might 
say being overheard; for at that moment a voice had 
sounded and from a most unusual quarter. Unnoticed 
until now, a fisher's boat, which for some time had been 
Hearing the shore, swept under the packet's stern and grazed 
along the stone front of the pier. 

"Voila, m'sieur," said, in French, the man who sailed it. 
"Have I not kept my word and brought your excellency 
across in safety and with speed? " 

"Yes," replied the passenger whom the fisher addressed. 


He spoke in perfect French, and with the smoothness of 
a man of the better class. *'Yoa have done well 
indeed. Also it was better than waiting about at Calais 
for the morning boat. I can now catch the very first train 
to London. Fast is she? There is your money. Adieu!" 

Then came the sound of some one leaving the boat and 
scrambling ap the water stairs, and hard on the heels of it 
the first whistle of the coming train. Narkom, glancing 
round, saw a slouching, ill-clad fellow whose appearance 
was in distinct contrast with his voice and manner of speak- 
ing, come into view upon the summit of the pier. His com- 
plexion was sallow, his matted hair seemed to have gone for 
years uncombed; a Turkish fez, dirty and discoloured, was 
on his head, and over his arm hung several bits of tapestry 
and shining stuff which betokened his calling as that of a 
seller of Oriental draperies. 

This much Narkom saw and would have gone on his way, 
giving the fellow no second thought, but that a curious thing 
happened. Moving away toward the footpath which led 
from the pier to the town, the pedler caught sight suddenly 
of the man standing at the gangplank; he halted abruptly, 
looked round to make sure that no one was watching, then, 
without more ado, turned round suddenly on his heel, 
walked straightway to the gangplank and boarded the boat. 
The Maura vanian took not the slightest heed of him, nor 
he of the Mauravanian. Afterward, when the train had 
arrived, Narkom thought he knew why. For the present 
he was merely puzzled to understand why this dirty, greasy 
Oriental pedler who had been at the pains to cross the 
Channel in a fisher's boat should do so for the apparent pur- 
pose of merely going back on the packet to Calais. 

By this time the train had arrived, the pier was alive with 
people, porters were running back and forth with luggage, 
and there was bustle and confusion everywhere. Narkom 
looked along the length of the vessel to the teeming gang- 




way. The Mauravanian was still there, alert as before, 
his fixed eyes keenly watching. 

A crowd came stringing along, bags and bundles done up 
in gaudy handkerchiefs in their hands, laughing, jostUng, 
jabbering together in low-class French. 

''Here they are, guv'ner — the Apaches I" said Dollops 
in a whisper. "That's the lot, sir. Keep your eye on them 
as they come aboard, and if they are with him — Crumbs! 
Not a sign; not a blessed one ! " For the Apaches, stringing 
up the gangplank by twos and threes and coming within 
brushing distance of the waiting man, passed on as the 
Oriental pedler had passed on, taking no notice of him, nor 
he of them, nor yet of how, as they advanced, the ped- 
ler slouched forward and slipped into the thick of them. 

**By James! one of them — that's what the fellow is!'* 
said Narkom, as he observed this. "If during the voyage 
the Mauravanian speaks to one man of the lot " 

He stopped and sucked in his breath and let the rest of 
the sentence go by default. For of a sudden there had 
come into sight upon the pier a dapper httle French dandy, 
fuzzy of moustache, mincing of gait, with a flower in his 
buttonhole and a shining "topper" on his beautifully po- 
maded head; and it came upon Narkom with a shock of re- 
membrance that he had seen this selfsame Hving fashion 
plate pass by Scotland Yard twice that very day ! 

Onward he came, this pretty monsieur, with his jaunty 
air and his lovely "wine-glass waist," onward, and up the 
gangway and aboard the packet; and there the Maurava- 
nian still stood, looking out over the crowd and taking no 
more heed of him than he had taken of anybody else. But 
with the vanishing of this exquisite, to whom he had paid 
no heed, his alertness and his interest seemed somehow to 
evaporate; for he turned now and again to watch the sailors 
and the longshoremen at their several duties, and strolled 
leisurely aboard and stood lounging against the rail of the 


lower deck when the call of "All ashore that's going!" rang 
through the vessel's length, and was still lounging there 
when the packet cast off her mooring, and swinging her bows 
round in the direction of France, creamed her way out into 
the Channel and headed for Calais. 

A wind, unnoticed in the safe shelter of the harbour, 
played boisterously across the chopping waves as the vessel 
forged outward, sending clouds of spray sweeping over the 
bows and along the decks, and such passengers as refrained 
from seeking the shelter of the saloon and smoke-room 
sought refuge by crowding aft. 

"Come!" whispered Narkom, tapping Dollops' arm. 
"We can neither talk nor watch here with safety in this 
crowd. Let us go 'forrard.' Better a drenching in lone- 
liness than shelter with a crowd Hke this. Come along!" 

The boy obeyed without a murmur, following the larger 
and heavier built "curate" along the wet decks to the de- 
serted bows, and finding safe retreat with him there in the 
dark shadow cast by a tarpaulin-covered Ufeboat. From 
this safe shelter they could, by craning their necks, get a 
half view of the interior of the smoke-room through its 
hooked-back door; and their first glance in that direction 
pinned their interest, for the pretty "Monsieur" was there, 
smoking a cigarette and sipping now and again at a glass 
of absinthe which stood on a little round table at his elbow. 
But of the Mauravanian or the Apaches or of the Oriental 
pedler, there was neither sight nor sound, nor had there 
been since the vessel started. 

"What do you make of it?" queried Narkom, when at 
the end of an hour the dim outlines of the French coast 
blurred the clear silver of the moonlit sky. "Have we come 
on a wild goose chase, do you think? What do you sup- 
pose has become of the Apaches and of the pedler chap?" 

"Travellin' second class," said Dollops, after stealing 
out and making a round of the vessel and creeping back into 


the shadow of the Hfeboat unseen. ''Pallin' with 'em, he 
is, sir. Makin' a play of selHn' 'em things for their donahs 
• — for the sake of appearances. One of 'em, he is; and if 
either that Frenchy or that Mauravanian johnny is mixed 
up with them — lay low! Smeller to the ground, sir, and 
eyes and ears wide open ! We'll know wot's wot now ! " 

For of a sudden the Mauravanian had come into view 
far down the wet and glistening promenade deck and was 
whistling a curious, Kiting air as he strolled along past the 
open door of the smoke-room. 

Just the mere twitch of ''Monsieur's" head told when he 
heard that tune. He finished his absinthe, flung aside his 
cigarette, and strolled leisurely out upon the deck. The 
Mauravanian was at the after end of the promenade — a 
glance told him that. He set hjs face resolutely in the di- 
rection of the bows and sauntered leisurely along. He 
moved on quietly, until he came to the very end of the 
covered promenade where the curving front of the deck- 
house looked out upon the spray- washed forward deck, 
then stopped and planted his back against it and stood si- 
lently waiting, not ten feet distant from where Narkom and 
Dollops crouched. 

A minute later the Mauravanian, continuing what was 
to all appearances a lonely and aimless promenade round 
the vessel, came abreast of that spot and of him. 

And then, the deluge! 

''Monsieur" spoke out — guardedly, but in a clear, crisp 
tone that left no room for doubt upon one point, at least. 

"Mon ami, it is done — it is accomphshed," that crisp 
voice said. *'You shall report that to his Majesty's min- 
isters. Voila, it is done ! " 

''It is not donel" repHed the Mauravanian, in a swift, 
biting, emphatic whisper. "You jump to conclusions too 
quickly. Here! take this. It is an evening paper. The 
thing was useless — he was not there ! " 


''Not there! Grande Dieu!" 

''Sh-h ! Take it — read it. I will see you when we land. 
Not here — it is ,00 dangerous. Au revoir ! " 

Then he passed on and round the curve of the deckhouse 
to the promenade on the other side; and ''Monsieur," with 
the paper hard shut in the grip of a tense hand, moved 
fleetly back toward the smoke-room. 

But not unknown any longer. 

"Gawd's truth — a woman!" gulped Dollops in a shak- 
ing voice. 

"No, not a woman — a devil! " said Narkom through his 
teeth. "Margot, by James! Margot, herself! And what 
is he — what is Cleek — that a king should enter into com- 
pact with a woman to kill him? Margot, dash her! Well, 
I'll have you now, my lady — yes, by James, I will!" 

" Guv'ner ! Gawd's truth, sir, where are you going?" 

"To the operator in charge of the wireless — to send a 
message to the chief of the Calais police to meet me on ar- 
rival!" said Narkom in reply. " Stop where you are. Lay 
low! Wait for me. We'll land in a dozen minutes' time. 
I'll have that Jezebel and her confederates and I'll rout out 
Cleek and get him beyond the clutches of them if I tear up 
all France to do it." 

"Gawd bless you, sir, Gawd bless you and forgive me!" 
said Dollops with a lump in his throat and a mist in his 
eyes. "I said often you was a sosidge and a muff, sir, but 
you aren't — you're a man ! " 

Narkom did not hear. He was gone already — down the 
deck to the cabin of the wireless operator. In another mo- 
ment he had passed in, shut the door behind him, and the 
Law at sea was talking to the Law ashore through the blue 
ether and across the moonlit waves. 

It was ten minutes later. The message had gone its way 
and Narkom was back in the hfeboat's shadow again, and 


close on the bows the lamps of Calais pier shone yellow in 
the blue-and-silver darkness. On the deck below people 
were bustling about and making for the place where the 
gangplank v/as to be thrust out presently, and link boat and 
shore together. On the quay, customs officials were making 
ready for the coming inspection, porters w^ere scuttling 
about in their blue smocks and peaked caps, and, back of all, 
the outlines of Calais Town loomed, shadowy and grim 
through the crowding gloom. 

The loneliness of the upper deck offered its attractions 
to the Mauravanian and to Margot, and in the emptiness 
of it they met again — within earshot of the lifeboat w^here 
Narkom and the boy lay hidden — for one brief w^ord be- 
fore they went ashore. 

''So, you have read: you understand how useless it w^as?^' 
the Mauravanian said, joining her again at the deckhouse, 
where she stood with the crumpled newspaper in her hand. 
''His Majesty's purse cannot be lightened of all that prom- 
ised sum for any such bungle as this. Speak quickly; 
where may we go to talk in safety? I cannot risk it here 
— I will not risk it in the train. Must we w^ait until we 
reach Paris, mademoiselle? Or have you a lair of your own 

"I have 'lairs,' as you term them, in half the cities of 
France, Monsieur le Comte," she answered with a vicious 
little note of resentment in her voice. "And I do not work 
for nothing — no, not I ! I paid for my adherence to hi? 
Majesty's Prime Minister and I intend to be paid for my 
services to his Majesty's self, even though I have this once 
failed. It must be settled, that question, at once and for 
all — now — to-night." 

"I guessed it would be like that," he answered, with a 
jerk of his shoulders. "Where shall it be, then? Speak 
quickly. They are making the landing and I must not be 
seen talking wdth you after we go ashore. Where, then?" 


"At the Inn of the Seven Sinners — on the Quai d'Lorme 

— a gunshot distant. Any cocher will take you there." 
"Is it safe?" • 

"All my 'lairs' are safe, monsieur. It overhangs the 
water. And if strangers come, there is a trap with a bolt 
on the under side. One way: to the town and the sewers 
and forty other inns. The other: to a motor boat, always 
in readiness for instant use. You could choose for yourself 
should occasion come. You will not find the place shut 

— my 'lairs' never are. A password? No, there is none 

— for any but the Brotherhood. Nor will you need one. 
You remember old Marise of the 'Twisted Arm' in Paris? 
Well, she serves at the Seven Sinners now. I have pro- 
m.oted Madame Serpice to the 'Twisted Arm'. She will 
know you, will Marise. Say to her I am coming shortly. 
She and her mates will raise the roof with joy, and — la! 
la! The gangway is out. They are calling all ashore. 
Look for me and my lads close on your heels when you 
arrive. Au revoir." 

"Au revoir," he repeated, and shpping by went below 
and made his way ashore. 

She waited that he might get well on his way — that none 
might by any possibility associate them — then turning, 
went down after him and out to the pier, where her crew 
were already forgathering; and when or how she passed 
the word to them that it was not Paris to-night but the Inn 
of the Seven Sinners, neither Narkom nor Dollops could 
decide, closie as they came on after her, for she seemed to 
speak to no one. 

"No Inn of the Seven Sinners for you to-night, my lady, 
if my friend M. Ducroix has attended to that wireless mes- 
sage properly," muttered Narkom as he followed her. 
"Look sharp, Dollops, and if you see a Sergeant de Ville 
let me know. They've no luggage, that lot, and, besides, 
they are natives, so they will pass the customs in a jiffy. 


Hullo ! there goes that pedler chap — and without his fez 
or his draperies, b'gadl Through the customs like a flash, 
the bounder! And there go the others, too. And she after 
them — she, by James! God! Where are Ducroix and 
his men? Why aren't they here? " — looking vainly about 
for some sign of the Chief of Police. ''I can't do anything 
without him — here, on foreign soil. Why in heaven's name 
doesn't the man come?" 

"Maybe he hasn't had time, guv'ner — maybe he wasn't 
on hand when the message arrived," hazarded Dollops. 
"It's not fifteen minutes all told since it was dispatched. 
So if " 

"There she goes! there she goes! Passed, and through 
the customs in a wink, the Jezebel!" interposed Narkom, 
in a fever of excitement, as he saw Margot go by the inspec- 
tor at the door and walk out into the streets of the city. 
"Lord! if she slips me now " 

"She shan't!" cut in Dollops, jerking down his hat brim 
and turning up his collar. "Wait here till the cops come. 
I'll nip out after her and see where she goes. Like as not 
the cops'll know the place when you mention it; but if they 
don't — watch out for me; I'll come back and lead 'em." 

Then he moved hurriedly forward, passed the inspector, 
and was gone in a twinkling. 

For ten wretched minutes after he, too, had passed the 
customs and was at liberty to leave, Narkom paced up and 
down and fretted and fumed before a sound of clanking 
sabres caught his ear and, looking round, he saw M. Du- 
croix enter the place at the head of a detachment of police. 
He hurried to him and in a word made himself known. 

"Ten million pardons, m'sieur; but I was absent when the 
message he shall be deliver," exclaimed Ducroix in broken 
English. "I shall come and shall bring my men as soon 
as he shall be receive. M'sieur, who shall it be this great 
criminal you demand of me to arrest? Is he here? " 


*^No, no. A moment, Ducroix. Do you know a place 
:alled the Inn of the Seven Sinners?" 

*' Perfectly. It is but a stone's throw distant — on the 
Qaai d'Lorme." 

'Xome with me to it, then. I'll make you the most 
envied man in France, Ducroix: I'll dehver into your hands 
that witch of the underworld, Margot, the Queen of the 

Ducroix's face Ht up like a face transfigured. 

^'M'sieur!" he cried. ''That woman? You can give 
me that woman? You know her? You can recognize 
her? But, yes, I remember! You shall have her in your 
hands once in your own country, but she shall slip you, 
as she shall slip everybody!" 

''She won't slip you, then, I promise you that!" said 
Narkom. "Reward and glory, both shall be yours. I 
have followed her across the channel, Ducroix. I know 
where she is to be found for a certainty. She is at the Inn 
of the Seven Sinners. Just take me there and I'll turn the 
Jezebel over to you." 

Ducroix needed no urging. The prospect of such a cap- 
ture made him fairly beside himself with delight. In 
twenty swift words he translated this glorious news to his 
men — setting them as wild with excitement as he was him- 
self — then with a sharp, "Come, m'siear!" he turned 
on his heel and led the breathless race for the goal. 

Halfway down the narrow, ink-black street that led to 
the inn they encountered Dollops pelting back at full speed. 

"Come on, guv'ner, come on, all of you!" he broke out 
as he came abreast of them. " She's there — they're all 
there — kickin' up Meg's diversions, sir, and singin' and 
dancin' like mad. And, sir, he's there, too — the pedler 
chap ! I see him come up and sneak in with the rest. Come 
on! This way, all of you." 

If they had merely run before, they all but flew now; for 


this second assurance that Margot, the great and long- 
so ugh t-f or Margot, was actually within their reach served 
to spur every man to outdo himself; so that it was but a 
minute or two later when they came in sight of the inn and 
bore down upon it in a solid phalanx. And then — just 
then — when another minute would have settled everything 
— the demon of mischance chose to play them a scurvv 

All they knew of it was that an Apache coming out of the 
building for some purpose of his own looked up and saw 
them, then faced round and bent back in the doorway; that 
of a sudden a very tornado of music and laughter and sing- 
ing and dancing rolled out into the night, and that when they 
came pounding up to the doorway, the fellow was lounging 
there serenely smoking; and, inside, his colleagues were 
holding a revel wild enough to wake the dead. 

In the winking of an eye he was carried off his feet and 
swept on by this sudden inrush of the law; the door clashed 
open, the little slatted barrier beyond was knocked aside, 
and the police were pouring into the room and running head- 
long into a spinning mass of wild dancers. 

The band ceased suddenly as they appeared, the dancers 
cried out as if in a panic of alarm, and at Ducroix's com- 
manding " Surrender in the name of the Law! " a fat woman 
behind the bar flung up her arms and voiced a despairing 

''Soul of misfortune! for what, m'sieur — for what?" 
she cried. ''It is no sin to laugh and dance. We break 
no law, my customers and I. What is it you want that you 
come in upon us like this? " 

Ah, what indeed? Not anything that could be seen. A 
glance round the room showed nothing and no one but these 
suddenly disturbed dancers, and of Margot and the Mau- 
ra vanian never a sign. 

"M'sieur!" began Ducroix, turning to Narkom, whoss* 


despair was only too evident, and who, in company with 
Dollops, was rushing about the place pushing people here 
and there, looking behind them, looking in all the corners, 
and generally deporting themselves after the manner of a. 
couple of hounds endeavouring to pick up a lost scent. 
M'sieur, shall it be an error, then?" 

Narkom did not answer. Of a sudden, however, he re- 
membered what had been said of the trap and, pushing 
aside a group of girls standing over it, found it in the middle 
of the floor. 

''Here it is — this is the way she got out!" he shouted. 
*' Bolted, by James! bolted on the under side! Up with it, 
up with it — the Jezebel got out this way." But though 
Ducroix and Dollops aided him, and they pulled and tugged 
and tugged and pulled, they could not budge it one inch. 

''M'sieur, no — what madness! He is not a trap — no, 
he is not a trap at all!" protested old Marise. "It is but a 
square where the floor broke and was mended ! Mother of 
misfortune, it is nothing but that." 

What response Narkom might have made was checked 
by a sudden discovery. Huddling in a corner, feigning a 
drunken sleep, he saw a man lying with his face hidden in 
his folded arms. It was the pedler. He pounced on the 
man and jerked up his head before the fellow could prevent 
it or could dream of what was about to happen. 

"Here's one of them at least!" he cried, and fell to shak- 
ing him with all his force. "Here's one of Margot's pals, 
Ducroix. You shan't go empty-handed after all." 

A cry of consternation fluttered through the gathering: 
as he brought the man's face into view. Evidently they 
were past masters of the art of acting, these Apaches, for 
one might have sworn that every man and every woman of 
them was taken aback by the fellow's presence. 

"Mother of Miracles! who shall the man be?" exclaimed 
Marise. "Messieurs, I know him not. I have not seen. 


him in all my life before. Cochon, speak up! Who are 
you, that you come in Hke this and get a respectable widow 
in trouble, dog? Eh?" 

The man made a motion first to his ears, then to his 
mouth, then fell to making movements in the sign lan- 
guage, but spoke never a word. 

''La, la! he is a deaf mute, m'sieur," said Ducroix. *'He 
hears not and speaks not, poor unfortunate." 

''Oh, doesn't he?" said Narkom with an ugly laugh. 
''He spoke well enough a couple of hours back, I promise 
3^ou. My young friend here and I heard him when he paid 
off the fisherman who had carried him over to Dover just 
before he sneaked aboard the packet to come back with 
Margot and the Mauravanian." 

The eyes of the Apaches flew to the man's face with a 
sudden keen interest which only they might understand; 
but he still stood, wagging his great head either drunkenly 
or idiotically, and pointing to ears and mouth. 

"Lay hold of him — run him in!" said Narkom, whirl- 
ing him across into the arms of a couple of stalwart Ser- 
geants de Ville. "I'll go before the magistrate and lay a 
charge against him in the morning that will open your eyes 
when you hear it. One of a bloodthirsty, dynamiting crew, 
the dog! Lay fast hold of him! don't let him get away on 
your lives! God! to have lost that woman! to have lost 
her after all!" 

It was a sore blow, certainly, but there was nothing to do 
but to grin and bear it; for to seek Margot at any of the 
inns which might communicate with the sewer trap, or to 
hunt for her and a motor boat on the dark water's surface, 
was in very truth Hke looking for a needle in a haystack, 
and quite as hopeless. He therefore, decided to go, for the 
rest of the night, to the nearest hotel; and waiting only to 
see the pedler carried away in safe custody, and promising 
to be on hand when he was brought up before the locai 


magistrate in the morning, took Dollops by the arm and 
dejectedly went his way. 

The morning saw him living up to his promise; and long^ 
before the arrival of the magistrate or, indeed, before the 
night's harvest of prisoners was brought over from the 
lockup and thrust into the three little "detention rooms'' 
below the court, he was there with Dollops and Ducroix, 
observing with wonder that groups of evil-looking fellows 
of the Apache breed were hanging round the building as 
he approached, and that later on others of the same kidney 
slipped in and took seats in the Kttle courtroom and kept 
constantly whispering one to the other while they waited 
for the morning session to begin. 

^'Gawd's truth, guv'ner, look at 'em — the 'ole blessed 
place is alive with the bounders," whispered Dollops. *'Wot 
do you think they are up to, sir? Makin' a rush and settin' 
the pedler free when he comes up before the Beak? There's, 
twenty of 'em waitin' round the door if there's one." 

Narkom made no reply. The arrival of the magistrate 
^ocussed all eyes on the bench and riveted his attention with 
the rest. 

The proceedings opened with all the trivial cases first — 
the night's sweep of the dragnet: drunks and disorderlies, 
vagrants and pariahs. One by one these were brought in 
and paid their fines and went their way, unheeded; for this 
part of the morning's proceedings interested nobody, not 
even the Apaches. The list was dragged through monot- 
onously; the last blear-eyed sot — a hideous, cadaverous, 
monkey-faced wretch whose brutal countenance sickened 
Narkom when he shambled up in his filthy rags — had paid 
his fine, and gone his way, and there remained now but a 
case of attempted suicide to be disposed of before the serious 
cases began. This latter occupied the magistrate's time 
and attention for perhaps twenty minutes or so, then that^, 


too, was disposed of; and then a voice was heard calling out 
for the unknown man arrested last night at the Inn of the 
Seven Sinners to be brought forward. 

In an instant a ripple of excitement ran through the little 
court. The Apache fraternity sat up within and passed the 
word to the Apache fraternity without, and these stood at 
attention — close-Hpped, dark-browed, eager, like human 
tigers waiting for the word to spring. Every eye was fixed 
on the door through which that pretended mute should be 
led in; but although others had come at the first call, he 
came not even at the second, and the magistrate had just 
issued an impatient command for the case to be called yet 
a third time, when there was a clatter of hasty footsteps and 
the keeper of the detention rooms burst into the court pale 
as a dead man and shaking in every nerve. 

^'M'sieur le Juge!" he cried out, extending his two arms. 
''Soul of Misfortunes, how shall I tell? He is not there — 
he is gone — he is escape, that unknown one. When I 
shall unlock the room and call for Jean Lamareau, the 
drunkard, at the case before the last, there shall come out of 
the dimness to me what I shall think is he and I shall bring 
him here and he shall be fine and dismissed. But, m'sieur, 
he shall not be Jean Lamareau after all ! I shall go now and 
call for the unknown and I shall get no answer; I shall go 
in and make of the place light, and there he shall be, that 
real Jean Lamareau — stripped of his clothes, choked to 
unconsciousness, alone on the floor, and the other shall 
have paid his fine and gone ! " 

A great cry went up, a wild confusion filled the court. 
The Apaches within rose and ran with the news to the 
Apaches without; and these, joining forces, scattered and 
ran through the streets in the direction the escaped prisoner 
had been seen to take. 

But through it all Narkom sat there squeezing his hands 
together and laughing in little shaking gusts that had a 


heart throb wavering through them; for to him this could 
mean but one thing. 

''Cleekl" he said, leaning down and shrilling a joyous 
whisper into Dollops' ear. ''But one man in all the world 
could have done that thing — but one man in all the w^orld 
would have dared. It was he — it was Cleek! God bless 
his bully soul!" 

''Amen, sir," said Dollops, swallowing something; then 
he rose at Narkom's bidding and followed him outside. 

A minute later a gamin brushing against them put out a 
grimy hand and said whiningly. 

"Boulogne, messieurs. Quai des Anges. Third house 
back from the waterside; in time for the noon boat across 
to Folkestone. Give me two francs, please. The monsieur 
said you would if I said that to you when you came out." 

The two francs were in his hand almost as he ceased speak- 
ing, and in less than a minute later a fiacre was whirling 
Narkom and Dollops off to the railway station and the next 
outgoing train to Boulogne. It was still short of midday 
when they arrived at the Quai des Anges and made their 
way to the third house back from the waterside — a little 
tavern with a toy garden in front and a sort of bowered 
arcade behind — and there under an almond tree, with a 
cigarette between his fingers and a bunch of flowers in his 
buttonhole, they came upon him at last. 

"Guv'ner! Oh, Gawd bless you, guv'ner, is it really 
you again?" said Dollops, rushing up to him like a girl to a 

"Yes, it is really I," he answered with one of his easy 
laughs. Then he rose and held out his hand as Narkom 
advanced; and for a moment or two they stood there palm 
in palm, saying not one word, making not one sound. 

"Nearly did for me, my overzealous friend," said Cleek, 
after a time. "I coiild have kicked you when you turned 
up with that lot at the Seven Sinners. Another ten minutes 


and I'd have had that in my hands which would have com- 
pelled his Majesty of Mauravania to give Irma his liberty 
and to abdicate in his consort's favour. But you came, 
you dear old blunderer ; and when I looked up and recognized 
you — well, let it pass I I was on my way back to London 
when I chanced to see Count Waldemar on watch beside 
the gangway of the Calais packet — he had slipped me, the 
hound, slipped me in Paris — and I saw my chance to run 
him down. Gad! it was a close squeak that, when you let 
those Apaches know that I had just crossed over from this 
side and had gone aboard the packet because I saw Walde- 
mar. They guessed then. I couldn't speak there, and I 
dared not speak in the court. They were there, on every 
hand — inside the building and out — waiting to knife me 
the instant they were sure. I had to get out — I had to 
get past them, and — voila.'^ 

He turned and laid an affectionate hand on Dollops' 
shoulder and laughed softly and pleasantly. 

"New place all right, old chap? Garden doing well, and 
all my traps in shipshape order, eh?" 

"Yes, sir, Gawd bless you, sir. Everything, sir, every- 

"Good lad! Then we'll be off to them. My holiday is 
over, Mr. Narkom, and I'm going back into harness again. 
You want me, I see, and I said I'd come if you did. Give 
me a few days' rest in old England, dear friend, and then 
— out with your riddles and I'm your man again." 


* ^^T^HIS will be it, I think, sir," said Lennard, bringing the 
A limousine to a halt at the head of a branching lane, 
thick set with lime and chestnut trees between whose dou- 
ble wall of green one could catch a distant glimpse of the 
river, shining golden in the five o'clock light. 

*'Look! see! There's the sign post — *To the Sleeping 
Mermaid' — over to the left there." 

^'Anything pinned to it or hanging on it?" Mr. Narkom 
spoke from the interior of the vehicle without making even 
the slightest movement toward alighting, merely glancing ' 
at a few memoranda scribbled on the back of a card whose 
reverse bore the words '^Taverne Maladosie Quai des Anges, 
Boulogne," printed upon it in rather ornate script. 

*'A bit of rag, a scrap of newspaper, a fowl's feather — 
anything? Look sharp 1" 

"No, sir, not a thing of any sort that I can see from here. 
Shall I nip over and make sure? " 

"Yes. Only don't give away the fact that you are ex- 
amining it in case there should be anybody on the look- 
out. If you find the smallest thing — even a carpet tack 
— attached to the post, get back into your seat at once 
and cut off townward as fast as you can make the car 

"Right you are, sir," said Lennard, and forthwith did 
as he had been bidden. In less than ninety seconds, how- 
ever, he was back with word that the post's surface was as 
smooth as your hand and not a thing of any sort attached 
to it from top to bottom. 



Narkom fetched a deep breath of relief at this news, 
tucked the card into his pocket, and got out immediately. 

"Hang round the neighbourhood somewhere and keep 
your ears open in case I should have to give the signal sooner 
than I anticipate," he said; then twisted round on his heel, 
turned into the tree-bordered lane, and bore do\\Ti in the 
direction of the river. 

When still short, by thirty yards or so, of its flowered 
and willow-fringed brim, he came upon a quaint little dia- 
mond-paned, red-roofed, low-eaved house set far back from 
the shore, with a garden full of violets and primroses and 
flaunting crocuses in front of it, and a tangle of blossoming 
things crowding what once had been a bower-bordered bowl- 
ing green in the rear. 

"Queen Anne, for a ducat!" he commented as he looked 
at the place and took in every detail from the magpie in the 
old pointed-topped wicker cage hanging from a nail beside 
the doorway to the rudely carved figure of a mermaid over 
the jutting, flower-filled diamond-paned w^indow of the bar 
parlour with its swinging sashes and its oak-beam sill, 
shoulder high from the green, sweet-smelling earth. 

"How the dickens does he ferret out these places, I won- 
der? And what fool has put his money into a show hke 
this in these days of advancement and enterprise? Buried 
away from the fine of trafiic ashore and shut in by trees 
from the river. Gad! they can't do a pound's worth of 
business in a month at an out-of-the-way roost like this ! " 

Certainly, they were not doing much of it that day; for, 
as he passed through the taproom, he caught a glimpse of the 
landlady dozing in a deep chair by the window, and of the 
back of a by-no-means-smartly-dressed barmaid — who 
might have been stone deaf for all notice she took of his 
entrance — standing on a stool behind the bar dusting and 
poHshing the woodwork of the shelves. The door of the 
bar parlour was open, and through it Narkom caught a 


glimpse of a bent-kneed, stoop-shouldered, doddering old 
man shuffling about, filling match-boxes, wiping ash trays, 
and carefully refolding the rumpled newspapers that lay 
on the centre table. That he was not the proprietor, merely 
a waiter, the towel over his arm, the shabby old dress coat, 
the baggy-kneed trousers would have been evidence enough 
without that added by the humble tasks he was performing. 

"Poor devil! And at his age!" said Narkom to himself, 
as he noted the pale, hopeless-looking, time-worn face and 
the shuffling, time-bent body; then, moved by a sense of 
keen pity, he walked into the room and spoke gently to him. 

"Tea for two, uncle — at a quarter-past five to the tick 
if you can manage it," he said, tossing the old man a shil- 
ling. "And say to the landlady that I'd like to have ex- 
clusive use of this room for an hour or two, so she can charge 
the loss to my account if she has to turn any other cus- 
tomers away." 

"Thanky, sir. I'll attend to it at once, sir," replied the 
old fellow, pocketing the coin, and moving briskly away to 
give the order. In another minute he was back again, lay- 
ing the cloth and setting out the dishes, while Narkom im- 
proved the time of waiting by straying round the room and 
looking at the old prints and cases of stuffed fishes that 
hung on the oak-panelled walls. 

It still wanted a minute or so of being a quarter-past five 
when the old man bore in the tea tray itself and set it upon 
the waiting table; and, little custom though the place en- 
joyed, Narkom could not but compliment it upon its prompt- 
ness and the inviting quahty of the viands served. 

"You may go," he said to the waiter, when the man at 
length bowed low and announced that all was ready; then, 
after a moment, turning round and finding him still shuf- 
fling about, "I say you may go!" he reiterated, a trifle 
sharply. "No, don't take the cosy off the teapot — leave it 
as it is. The gentleman I am expecting has not arrived 


yet, and — look here ! will you have the goodness to let that 
cosy alone and to clear out when I tell you? By James! 
if you don't Hullo! What the dickens was that?" 

"That" was undoubtedly the tingle of a handful of gravel 
against the panes of the window. 

'^A sign that the coast is quite clear and that you have not 
been followed, dear friend," said a voice — Cleek's voice — 
in reply. ''Shall we not sit down? I'm famishing." And 
as Narkom turned round on his heel — with the certainty 
that no one had entered the room since the door was closed 
and he himself before it — the tea cosy was whipped off by a 
hand that no longer shook, the waiter's bent figure straight- 
ened, his pale, drawn features writhed, blent, settled into 
placid calmness and — the thing was done ! 

''By all that's wonderful — Cleek ! " blurted out Nar- 
kom, delightedly, and lurched toward him. 

"Sh-h-h! Gently, gently, my friend," he interposed, 
putting up a warning hand. "It is true Dollops has sig- 
nalled that there is no one in the vicinity likely to hear, but 
although the maid is both deaf and dumb, recollect that 
Mrs. Condiment is neither; and I have no more wish for 
her to discover my real calling than I ever had." 

"Mrs. Condiment?" repeated Narkom, sinking his voice, 
and speaking in a tone of agitation and amazement. "You 
don't mean to tell me that the old woman you employed as 
housekeeper when you Uved in Clarges Street is here? " 

"Certainly; she is the landlady. Her assistant is that 
same deaf and dumb maid-of -all- work who worked with her 
at the old house, and is sharing with her a sort of 'retire- 
ment' here. 'Captain Burbage' set the pair of them 
up in business here two days after his departure from 
Clarges Street and pays them a monthly wage sujSicient 
to make up for any lack of 'custom.' All that they 
are bound to do is to allow a pensioner of the captain's 
— a poor old half-witted ex-waiter called Joseph — to 


come and go as he will and to gratify a whim for waiting 
upon people if he chooses to do so. What's that? No, 
the 'captain' does not live here. He and his henchman, 
Dollops, are supposed to be out of the country. Mrs. 
Condiment does not know where he lives — nor will she 
ever be permitted to do so. You may, some day, per- 
haps that is for the future to decide; but not at 

present, my dear friend; it is too risky." 

''Why risky, old chap? Surely I can come and go in 
disguise as I did in the old days, Cleek? We managed 
secret visits all right then, remember." 

''Yes — I know. But things have changed, Mr. Nar- 
kom. You may disguise yourself as cleverly as you please, 
but you can't disguise the red limousine. It is known and 
it will be followed; so, until you can get another of a totally 
different colour and appearance I'll ring you up each morn- 
ing at the Yard and we can make our appointments over 
your private wire. For the present we must take no great 
risks. In the days that lie behind, dear friend, I had no 
'tracker' to guard against but Margot, no enemies but her 
paltry crew to reckon with and to outwit. In these, I have 
many. They have brains, these new foes; they are rich, 
they are desperate, they are powerful; and behind them 

is the implacable hate and the malignant hand of 

No matter! You wouldn't understand." 

"I can make a devilish good guess, then," rapped in 
Narkom, a trifle testily, his vanity a little hurt by 
that final suggestion, and his mind harking back to 
the brief enlightening conversation between Margot and 
Count Waldemar that night on the spray-swept deck of the 
Channel packet. "Behind them is 'the implacable hate 
and the m.alignant hand' of the King of Mauravania!" 

"What utter rubbish!" Cleek's jeering laughter fairly 
stung, it was so full of pitying derision. "My friend, have 
you taken to reading penny novelettes of late? A thief* 


taker and a monarch ! An ex-criminal and a king ! I should 
have given you credit for more common sense." 

"It was the King of Mauravania's equerry who directed 
that attempt to kill you by blowing up the house in Clarges 

"Very possibly. But that does not incriminate his royal 
master. Count Waldemar is not only equerr}^ to King 
Ulric of Mauravania, but is also nephew to its ex-Prime 
Minister — the gentleman who is doing fifteen years' ener- 
getic labour for the British Government as a result of that 
attempt to trap me with his witless 'Silver Snare.' " 

"Ohl" said Narkom, considerably crestfallen; then 
grasped at yet another straw with sudden, breathless eager- 
ness. "But even then the head of the Mauravanian Govern- 
ment must have had some reason for wishing to 'wipe you 
out/ " he added, earnestly. "There could be no question 
of avenging an uncle's overthrow^ at that tim.e. Cleek!" — 
his voice running thin and eager, his hand shutting suddenly 
upon his famous ally's arm — "Cleek, trust me! Won't 
you? Can't you? As God hears me, old chap, I'll re- 
spect it. Who are you? What are you, man? " 

"Cleek," he made answer, calmly drawing out a chair 
and taking his seat at the table. " Cleek of Scotland A^ard; 
Cleek of the Forty Faces — which you will. Who should 
know that better than you whose helping hand has made 
me what I am?" 

"Yes, but before, Cleek? What were you, who were you, 
in the days before? " 

"The Vanishing Cracksman — a dog who would have 
gone on, no doubt, to a dog's end but for your kind hand 
and the dear eyes of Ailsa Lome. Now give me my tea — 
I'm famishing — and after that we'll talk of this new riddle 
that needs unriddling for the honour of the Yard. Yes, 
thanks, two lumps, and just a mere dash of milk. Gad! 
It's good to be back in England, dear friend; it's good, it's 


'*17^IVE men, eh?" said Cleek, glancing up at Mr. Nar- 

^ kom, who for tv/o or three minutes past had been 
giving him a sketchy outhne of the case in hand. "A 
goodish many that. And all inside of the past six weeks, 
you say? No wonder the papers have been hammering the 
Yard, if, as you suggest, they were not accidental deaths. 
Sure they are not? " 

"As sure as I am that I'm speaking to you at this minute. 
I had my doubts in the beginning — there seemed so little 
to connect the separate tragedies — but when case after 
case followed with exactly, or nearly exactly, the same 
details in every instance, one simply had to suspect foul 

"Naturally. Even a donkey must know that there's 
food about if he smells thistles. Begin at the beginning, 
T^lease. How did the affair start? When and where?" 

"In the neighbourhood of Hampstead Heath at two 
o'clock in the morning. The constable on duty in the dis- 
trict came upon a man clad only in pajamas lying face 
downward under the wall surrounding a corner house — 
still warm but as dead as Queen Anne." 

"In his pajamas, eh?" said Cleek, reaching for a fresh 
slice of toast. "Pretty clear evidence that that poor beg- 
gar's trouble, whatever it was, must have overtaken him in 
bed and that that bed was either in the vicinity of the spot 
where he was found, or else the man had been carried in a 
closed vehicle to the place where the constable discovered 
him. A chap can't walk far in that kind of a get-up with- 



out attracting attention. And the body was warm, you 
say, when found. Hum-m! Any vehicle seen or heard in 
the vicinity of the spot just previously? " 

''Not the ghost of one. The night was very still, and the 
constable must have heard if either cab, auto, carriage, or 
dray had passed in any direction v/hatsoever. He is posi- 
tive that none did. Naturally, he thought, as you sug- 
gested just now, that the man must have come from 
some house in the neighbourhood. Investigation, however, 
proved that he did not — in short, that nobody could be 
found who had ever seen him before. Indeed, it is hardly 
likely that he could have been sleeping in any of the sur- 
rounding houses, for the neighbourhood is a very good one, 
and the man had the appearance of being a person of the 
labouring class." 

"Any marks on the clothing or body?" 

"Not one — beyond a tattooed heart on the left fore- 
arm, which caused the coroner to come to the conclusion 
later that the man had at some time been either a soldier 
or a sailor." 


"The tattooing was evidently of foreign origin, he said, 
from the skilful manner in which it had been perfomied and 
the briUiant colour of the pigments used. Beyond that, 
the body bore no blemish. The man had not been stabbed, 
he had not been shot, and a post-mortem examination of the 
viscera proved conclusively that he had not been poisoned. 
Neither had he been strangled, etherized, drowned, or blud- 
geoned, for the brain was in no way injured and the lungs were 
in a healthy condition. It was noticed, however, that the 
passages of the throat and nose were unduly red, and that 
there was a shghtly distended condition of the bowels. 
This latter, however, was set down by the physicians as 
the natural condition following enteric, from which it was 
positive that the man had recently suffered. They at- 


tributed the slightly inflamed condition of the nasal pass- 
age and throat to his having either swallowed or snufl'ed up 
something — camphor or something of that sort — to 
allay the progress of the enteric, although even by analysis 
they were unable to discover a trace of camphor or indeed 
of any foreign substance whatsoever. The body was held 
in the public mortuary for several days awaiting identifica- 
tion, but nobody came forward to claim it; so it was even- 
tually buried in the usual way and a verdict of 'Found 
Dead' entered in the archives against the number given to 
it. The matter had excited but little comment on the part 
of the public or the newspapers, and would never have beea 
recalled but for the astonishing fact that just two nights 
after the burial a second man was found under precisely 
similar circumstances — only that this second man was 
dad in boots, undervest, and trousers. He was found in 
a sort of gulley (down which, from the marks on the side, he 
had evidently fallen), behind some furze bushes at a far 
and Httle frequented part of the heath. An autopsy 
established the fact that this man had died in a precisely 
similar manner to the first, but, what was more starthng, 
that he had evidently pre-deceased that first victim by 
several days; for, when found, decomposition had already 
set in." 

^'Hum-m-m! I see!" said Cleek, arching fiis brows and 
stirring his tea rather slowly. ''A clear case of what Paddy 
would term 'the second fellow being the first one.' Go on, 
please. What next?" 

*'0h, a perfect fever of excitement, of course; for it now 
became evident that a crime had been committed in both 
instances; and the Press made a great to-do over it. With- 
in the course of the next fortnight it was positively froth- 
ing, throwing panic into the pubhc mind by the wholesale, 
and whipping up people's fears hke a madman stirring a 
salad; for, by that time a third body had been found — 


under some furze bushes, upward of half a mile distant 
from where the second had been discovered. Like the first 
body, this one was wearing night clothes; but it was in an 
even more advanced state of decomposition than the sec- 
ond, showing that the man must have died long before 
either of them!" 

^'Ohol" said Cleek, with a strong rising inflection. 
*'What a blundering idiot! Our assassin is evidently a raw 
hand at the game, Mr. Narkom, and not, as I had begun to 
fancy, either a professional or the appointed agent of som.e 
secret society following a process of extermination against 
certain marked men. Neither the secret agent nor the 
professional bandit would be guilty of the extreme folly of 
operating several times in the same locaHty, be assured; 
and here is this muddhng amateur letting hunself be lulled 
into a feehng of security by the failure of anybody to dis- 
cover the bodies of the first victims, and then going at it 
again in the same place and the same way. For it is fair 
to assume, I daresay, that the fourth man was discovered 
under precisely similar circumstances to the first." 

^'Not exactly — very like them, but not exactly like 
them, Cleek. As a matter of fact, he was alive when 
found. I didn't credit the report when I first heard it 
(a newspaper man brought it to me), and sent Petrie to 
investigate the truth of it." 

*'Why didn't you beheve the report?" 

^'Because it seemed so wildly improbable. And, besides, 
they had hatched up so many yarns, those newspaper 
reporters, since the affair began. According to this fellow, 
a tramp, crossing the heath in quest of a place to sleep, had 
been frightened half out of his wits by hearing a voice which 
he described as being like the voice of some one stranghng, 
calhng out in the darkness, 'Sapphires! Sapphires!' and a 
few mom.ents later, when, as the reporter said, the tramp 
told him, he was scutthng away in a panic, he came sud- 


denly upon the figure of a man who was dancing round and 
round like a whirling dervish, with his mouth wide open, his 
tongue hanging out, and the forefinger of each hand stuck 
in his nostril as if " 

^'What's that? What's that?" Cleek's voice flicked 
in Hke the crack of a whip. " Good God! Dancing round 
in circles? His mouth open? His tongue hanging out? 
His fingers thrust into his nostrils? Was that what you 

*'Yes. Why? Do you see anything promising in that 
fact, Cleek? It seems to excite you." 

*' Never mind about that. Stick to the subject. Was 
that report found to be correct, then?" 

*'In a measure, yes. Only, of course, one had to take 
the tramp's assertion that the man had been calHng out 
'Sapphires' upon faith, for when discovered and conveyed 
to the hospital, he was in a comatose condition and beyond 
making any sound at all. He died, without recovering 
consciousness, about twenty minutes after Petrie's arrival; 
and, although the doctors performed a post-mortem imme- 
diately after the breath had left his body, there was not a 
trace of anything to be found that differed in the slightest 
from the other cases. Heart, brain, liver, lungs — all were 
in a healthy condition, and beyond the reddened throat 
and the signs of recent enteric there was nothing abnormal." 

''But his Kps — his lips, Mr. Narkom? Was there a 
smear of earth upon them? Was he lying on his face when 
found? W^ere his fingers clenched in the grass? Did it 
look as if he had been biting the soil? " 

"Yes," repKed Narkom. " As a matter of fact there was 
both earth and grass in the mouth. The doctors removed 
it carefully, examined it under the microscope, even sub- 
jected it to chemical test in the hope of discovering some 
foreign substance mixed with the mass, but failed utterly 
to discover a single trace." 


''Of course, of course! It would be gone like a breath, 
gone like a passing cloud if it were that." 

"If it were what? Cleek, my dear fellow! Good Lord! 
you don't mean to tell me you've got a clue? " 

"Perhaps — perhaps — don't worry me!" he made an- 
swer testily; then rose and walked over to the window and 
stood there alone, pinching his chin between his thumb and 
forefinger and staring fixedly at things beyond. After a 
time, however: 

"Yes, it could be that — assuredly it could be that," he 
said in a low-sunk voice, as if answering a query. "But 
in England — in this far land. In Malay, yes; in Ceylon, 
certainly. And sapphires, too — sappliires ! Hum-m-m ! 
They mine them there. One man had travelled in foreign 
parts and been tattooed by natives. So that the selfsame 

country Just so! Of course! Of course! But who? 

But how? And in England? " 

His voice dropped off. He stood for a minute or so in 
absolute silence, drumming noiselessly with his finger tips 
upon the wdndow-sill, then turned abruptly and spoke to 
Mr. Narkom. 

"Go on with the story, please," he said. "There was a 
fifth man, I believe. When and how did his end come?" 

"Like the others, for the most part, but with one startKng 
difference: instead of being undressed, nothing had been 
removed but his collar and boots. He was killed on the 
night I started with Dollops for the Continent in quest of 
you; and his was the second body that was not actually 
found on the heath. Like the first man, he was found 
under the wall which surrounds Lemmingham House." 

" Lemmingham House? What's that — a hotel or a pri- 
vate residence?" 

"A private residence, owned and occupied by Mr. James 
B arring ton-Edwards. ' ' 

"Any relation to that Captain Barring ton-Ed wards who 


was cashiered from the army some twenty years ago for 
* conduct unbecoming an ofhcer and a gentleman'?" 

"The same manl" 

"Oho! the same man, eh?" Cleek's tone was full of 
sudden interest. "Stop a bit! Let me put my thinking 
box into operation. Captain Barrington-Edwards — hum- 
m-m ! That little military unpleasantness happened out in 
Ceylon, did it not? The gentleman had a fancy for con- 
juring tricks, I believe; even went so far as to study them 
first hand under the tutelage of native fakirs, and was sub- 
sequently caught cheating at cards. That's the man, 
isn't it?" 

"Yes," said Narkom, "that's the man. I'll have some- 
thing startling to tell you in connection with him presently, 
but not in connection with that card-cheating scandal. 
He always swore that he was innocent of that. Li fact, 
that it was a put-up job by one of the other officers for the 
sake of ruining him." 

"Yes, I know — they all say that. It's the only thing 
they can say." 

" Still, I always believed him, Cleek. He's been a pretty 
straightforward man in all my dealings with him, and I've 
had several. Besides which, he is highly respected these 
days. Then, too, there's the fact that the fellow he said 
put up the job against him for the sake of blackening him 
in the eyes of his sweetheart, eventually married the girl, 
so it does look rather fishy. However, although it ruined 
Barrington-Edwards for the time being, and embittered 
him so that he never married, he certainly had the satis- 
faction of knowing that the fellow who had caused this 
trouble turned out an absolute rotter, spent all his wife's 
money and brought her down to absolute beggary, whereas, 
if she'd stuck to Barrington-Edwards she'd have been a 
wealthy woman indeed, to-day. He's worth half a million 
at the least calculation." 


''How's that? Somebody die and leave him a fortune?" 

"No. He had a Httle of his own. Speculated, while 
he was in the East, in precious stones and land which he had 
reason to believe likely to produce them; succeeded beyond 
his wildest hopes, and is to-day head of the firm of Barring- 
ton-Edwards, Morpeth & Firmin, the biggest dealers in 
precious stones that Hatton Garden can boast of." 

"Oho!" said Cleek. "I see! I see!" and screwed round 
on his heel and looked out of the windov/ again. Then, 
after a moment: "And Mr. Barrington-Edwards lives 
in the neighbourhood of Hampstead Heath, does he?" he 
asked quite calmly. ' ' Alone ? ' ' 

"No. With his nephew and heir, young Mr. Archer 
IBlaine, a dead sister's only child. As a matter of fact, it 
was Mr. Archer Blaine himself who discovered the body of 
the fifth victim. Coming home at a quarter to one from a 
visit to an old college friend, he found the man lying stone 
dead in the shadow of the wall surrounding Lemmingham 
House, and, of course, lost no time in dashing indoors for 
a pohce whistle and summoning the constable on point 
duty in the district. The body was at once given in charge 
of a hastily summoned detachment from the Yard and con- 
veyed to the Hampstead mortuary, where it still Hes await- 
ing identification." 

"Been photographed?" 

"Not as yet. Of course it will be — as were the other 
four — prior to the time of burial should nobody turn up 
to claim it. But in this instance we have great hopes that 
identification will take place on the strength of a marked 
peculiarity. The man is web-footed and " 

"The man is what?'' rapped in Cleek excitedly. 

"Web-footed," repeated Narkom. "The several toes 
are attached one to the other by a thin membrane, after the 
manner of a duck's feet; and on the left foot there is a 
peculiar horny protuberance like " 


*'Like a rudimentary sixth toe!" interrupted Cleek, 
fairly flinging the eager query at him. ''It is, eh? Well, 
by the Eternal I I once knew a fellow — years ago, in the 
Far East — whose feet were malformed like that; and if by 

any possibility Stop a bit ! A word more. Is that 

man a big fellow — broad shouldered muscular, and about 
forty or forty-five years of age?" 

''You've described him to a T, dear chap. There is, 
however, a certain other peculiarity which you have not men- 
tioned, though that, of course, maybe a recent acquirement. 
The palm of the right hand " 

''Wait a bit! Wait a bit!" interposed Cleek, a trifle 
irritably. He had swung away from the window and was 
now walking up and down the room with short nervous 
steps, his chin pinched up between his thumb and forefinger, 
his brows knotted, and his eyes fixed upon the floor. 

"Saffragam — Jaffna — ■ Trincomalee ! In all three of 
them — in all three ! " he said, putting his running thoughts 
into muttered words. "And now a dead man sticks his 
fingers in his nostrils and talks of sapphires. Sapphires, 
eh? And the Saffragam district stuck thick with them as 
spangles on a Nautch girl's veil. The Bareva for a ducat I 
The Bareva Reef or I'm a Dutchman! And Barrington- 
Edwards was in that with the rest. So was Peabody; so 
was Miles; and so, too, were Lieutenant Edgburn and the 
Spaniard, Juan Alvarez. Eight of them, b'gad — eight! 
And I was ass enough to forget, idiot enough not to catch 
the connection until I heard again of Jim Peabody's web 
foot! But wait! Stop — there should be another marked 
foot if this is indeed a clue to the riddle, and so " 

He stopped short in his restless pacing and faced round 
on Mr. Narkom. 

"Tell me something," he said in a sharp staccato. "The 
four other dead men — did any among them have an in- 
jured foot — the left or the right, I forget which — from 


which all toes but the big one had been torn off by a croco- 
dile's bite, so that in life the fellow must have limped a 
little when he walked? Did any of the dead men bear a 
markhke that?" 

''No," said Narkom. ''The feet of all the others were 
normal in every particular." 

"Hum-m-m! That's a bit of a setback. And I am 
either on the wrong track or Alvarez is still aHve. What's 
that? Oh, it doesn't matter; a mere fancy of mine, that's 
all. Now let us get back to our mutton, please. You were 
going to tell me something about the right hand of the man 
with the web foot. What was it? " 

''The palm bore certain curious hieroglyphics traced upon 
it in bright purple." 

"Hieroglyphics, eh? That doesn't look quite so promis- 
ing," said Cleek in a disappointed tone. "It is quite pos- 
sible that there may be more than one web-footed man in 

the world, so of course Hum-m-m ! What were these 

hieroglyphics, Mr. Narkom? Can you describe them?" 

"I can do better, my dear chap," replied the superin- 
tendent, dipping into an inner pocket and bringing forth 
a brown leather case. "I took an accurate tracing of them 
from the dead hand this morning, and — there you are. 
That's what's on his palm, Cleek, close to the base of the 
forefinger running diagonally across it." 

Cleek took the slip of tracing paper and carried it to the 
window, for the twilight was deepening and the room was 
filKng with shadows. In the middle of the thin, transpar- 
ent sheet was traced this: 

He turned it up and down, he held it to the light and 
studied it for a moment or two in perplexed silence, then 


of a sudden he faced round, and Narkom could see that his 
eyes were shining and that the curious one-sided smile, 
peculiar unto him, was looping up his cheek. 

^'My friend,'' he said, answering the eager query in the 
superintendent's look, ''this is yet another vindication of 
Poe's theory that things least hidden are best hidden, and 
that the most complex mysteries are those which are based 
on the simplest principles. With your permission, I'll 
keep this" — tucking the tracing into his pocket — ''and 
afterward I will go to the mortuary and inspect the original. 
Meantime, I will go so far as to tell you that I know the 
motive for these murders, I know the means, and if you will 
give me forty-eight hours to solve the riddle, at the end of 
that time I'll know the man. I will even go farther and tell 
you the names of the \ictims; and all on the evidence of 
your neat Httle tracing. The web-footed man was one, 
James Peabody, a farrier, at one time attached to the Blue 
Cavalry at Trincomalee, Ceylon. Another was Joseph 
Miles, an Irishman, bitten early with the 'wanderlust" 
which takes men everywhere, and in making rolling stones 
of them, suffers them to gather no moss. Still another — 
and probably, from the tattoo mark on his arm, the first 
victim found — was Thomas Hart, ablebodied seaman, 
formerly in service on the P & O line; the remaining two 
were Alexander McCurdy, a Scotchman, and T. Jenkins 
Quegg, a Yankee. The latter, however, was a naturalized 
Englishman, and both were privates in her late Majesty's 
army and honourably discharged." 

"Cleek, my dear fellow, are you a magician?" said Nar- 
kom, sinking into a chair, overcome. 

''Oh, no, my friend, merely a man with a memory, that's 
all; and I happen to remember a curious little 'pool' that 
w^as made up of eight men. Five of them are dead. The 
other three are Juan Alvarez, a Spaniard, that Lieutenant 
Edgburn who married and beggared the girl Captain Bar- 


rington-Edwards lost when he was disgraced, and last of 
all the ex-Captain Barrington-Edwards himself. Gently, 
gently, my friend. Don't excite yourself. All these mur- 
ders have been committed with a definite purpose in 
view, with a devil's instrument, and for the devil's own 
stake — riches. Those riches, Mr. Narkom, were to come 
in the shape of precious stones, the glorious sapphires of 
Ceylon. And five of the eight men who were to reap the 
harvest of them died mysteriously in the vicinity of Lem- 
mingham House." 

*' Cleek! My hat!" Narkom sprang up as he spoke, and 
then sat down again in a sort of panic. ''And he — Bar- 
rington-Edwards, the man that lives there — deals in pre- 
cious stones. Then that man " 

*' Gently, my friend, gently — don't bang away at the 
first rabbit that bolts out of the hole — it may be a wee one 
and you'll lose the buck that follows. Two men live in that 
house, remember; Mr. Archer Blaine is Mr. Barrington- 
Edwards' heir as well as his nephew and — who knows? " 


* * /'^INNAMON ! what a corroboration — what a horrible 

^^^ corroboration ! Cleek, you knock the last prop from 
under me ; you make certain a thing that I thought was only 
a woman's wild imaginings," said Narkom, getting up sud- 
denly, all a- tremble with excitement. *'Good heavens! to 
have Miss Valmond's story corroborated in this dreadful 

^'Miss Valmond? Who's she? Any relation to that 
Miss Rose Valmond whose name one sees in the papers so 
frequently in connection with gifts to Catholic Orphanages 
and Foundling Homes? " 

"The same lady," replied Narkom. "Her charities are 
numberless, her life a psalm. I think she has done more 
good in her simple, undemonstrative way than half the guilds 
and missions in London. She has an independent fortune, 
and lives, in company with an invalid and almost imbecile 
mother, and a brother who is, I am told, studying for the 
priesthood, in a beautiful home surrounded by splendid 
grounds, the walls of which separate her garden from that of 
Lemmingham House." 

"Ah, I see. Then she is a neighbour of Barrington- 

"Yes. From the back windows of her residence one can 
look into the grounds of his. That is how — Cleek 1" Mr. 
Narkom's voice shook with agitation — ' ' You will remember 
I said, a Httle time back, that I would have something 
startling to tell you in connection with Barrington-Edwards 
^ — something that was not connected with that old army 



scandal? If it had not been for the high character of my 
informant; if it had been any other woman in all England 
I should have thought she was suffering from nerves - 
fancying things as the result of an overwrought mind sent 
into a state of hysteria through all those abominable crimes 
in the neighbourhood; but when it was she, when it was 
Miss Valmond " 

''Oho I" said Cleek, screwing round suddenly. "Then 
Miss Valmond told you something with regard to Bar- 

"Yes — a horrible something. She came to me this 
morning looking as I hope I shall never see a good woman 
look again — as if she had been tortured to the last hmit 
of human endurance. She had been fighting a silent battle 
for weeks and weeks she said, but her conscience would not 
let her keep the appalhng secret any longer, neither would 
her duty to Heaven. Wakened in the dead of night by a 
sense of oppression, she had gone to her window to open 
it for air, and, looking down by chance into the garden of 
Lemmingharn House, she had seen a man come rushing out 
of the rear door of Barring ton-Edwards' place in his pa- 
jamas, closely followed by another, whom she beheved to 
be Barrington-Edwards himself, and she had seen that man 
unlock the door in the side wall and push the poor wretch 
out into the road where he was afterward found by the con- 

"By Jupiter!" 

"Ah, you may be moved when you connect that circum- 
stance with what you have yourself unearthed. But there 
is worse to come. Unable to overcome a frightful fascina- 
tion which drew her night after night to that window^, she 
saw that same thing happen again to the fourth, and finally, 
the fifth man — the web-footed one — and that last time 
she saw the face of the pursuer quite plainly. It was Bar- 
rington-Edwards 1 " 


"Sure of that, was she? " 

^'Absolutely. It was the positive certainty it was he that 
drove her at last to speak!" 

Cleek made no reply, no comment; merely screwed round 
on his heel and took to pacing the floor again. After a 
minute however : 

''Mr. Narkom," he said halting abruptly. "I suppose 
all my old duds are still in the locker of the Umousine, aren't 
they? Good! I thought so. Give Lennard the signal, 
will you? I must risk the old car in an emergency like 
this. Take me first to the cable office, please; then to the 
mortuary, and afterward to Miss Valmond's home. I hate 
to torture her further, poor girl, but I must get all the facts 
of this, firsthand." 

He did. The limousine was summoned at once, and 
inside of an hour it set him down (looking the very picture 
of a sohcitor's clerk) at the cable office, then picked up and 
set him down at the Hampstead mortuary, this time, mak- 
ing so good a counterpart of Petrie that even Hammond, 
who was on guard beside the dead man, said "Hullo, Pete, 
that you? Thought you was oft' duty to-day," as he came in 
with the superintendent. 

"Jim Peabody fast enough, Mr. Narkom," commented 
Cleek, when they were left together beside the dead man. 
"Changed, of course, in all the years, but still poor old Jim. 
Good-hearted, honest, but illiterate. Could barely more 
than write his name, and even that without a capital, poor 
chap. Let me look at the hand. A violet smudge on the 
top of the thumb as well as those marks on the palm, I see. 
Hum-m-m! Any letters or writing of any sort in the 
pockets when found? None, eh? That old bone-handled 
pocket knife there his? Yes, I'd like to look at it. Open it- 
please. Thanks. I thought so, I thought so. Those the 
socks he had on? Poor wretch! Down to that at last, eh? 
— down to that ! Let me have one of them for a day or so, 


will you? and — 3^es — the photographs of the other four, 
please. Thanks very much. No, that's all. Now then, 
to call on Miss Valmond, if you don't mind. Right you 
are. Lethergo, Lennard. Down with the blinds and open 
with the locker again, Mr. Narkom, and we'll'dig'Mr. George 
Headland' out of his two-months' old grave." And at 
exactly ten minutes after eight o'clock, Mr. George Head- 
land was 'dug up' and was standing with Mr. Narkom in 
Rose Valmond's house listening to Rose Valmond's story 
from her own lips, and saying to himself, the while, that 
here surely was that often talked-of , seldom-seen creature, 
a woman with an angel's face. 

How it distressed her, to tell again this story which might 
take away a human life, was manifest from the trembling of 
her sweet voice, the painful twitching of her tender mouth, 
and the tears that rose so readily to her soft eyes. 

^'Oh, Mr. Headland, I can hardly reconcile myself to 
having done it even yet," she said pathetically. ''I do 
not know this Mr. Barrington-Edwards but by sight, and 
it seems such a horrible thing to rise up against a stranger 
like that. But I couldn't keep it any longer; I felt that to 
do so would be equivalent to sharing his guilt, and the 
thought that if I kept silent I might possibly be paving the 
way to the sacrifice of other innocent lives almost drove 
me out of my mind." 

"I can quite understand your feelings. Miss Valmond," 
said Cleek, touched to the very heart by the deep distress 
of her. ''But may I say I think you have done right? I 
never yet knew Heaven to be anything but tender to those 
who do their duty, and you certainly have done yours — to 
yourself, to your fellow creatures, and to God!" 

Before she could make any response to this, footsteps 
sounded from the outer passage, and a deep, rich, masculine 
voice said, "Rose, Rose dear, I am ready now," and almost 
\n the same moment a tall, well-set-up man in priestly cloth- 


ing crossed the threshold and entered the room. He stopped 
short as he saw the others and made a hasty apology. 

''Oh, pardon me/' he said. ''I did not know that you 

had visitors, dear; otherwise Eh, what? Mr. Nar- 


"Yes, Mr. Valmond," replied the superintendent, hold- 
ing out a welcoming hand. ''It is I, and this is my friend 
and assistant, Mr. George Headland. We have just been 
talking with your sister over her trying experience." 

"Terrible — terrible is the proper word, Mr. Narkom. 
Like you, I never heard of it until to-day. It shocked me 
to the very soul, you may beHeve. Delighted to meet you, 
Mr. Headland. A new disciple, eh, Mr. Narkom? Another 
follower in the footsteps of the great Cleek? By the way, I 
see you have lost touch with that amazing man. I saw 
your advertisement in the paper the other day. Any clue 
to his whereabouts as yet?" 


"Ah, that's too bad. From what I have heard of him he 
would have made short work of this present case had he 
been available. But pray pardon me if I rush off, my time 
is very hmited. Rose, dear, I am going to visit Father 
Burns this evening and shall stop at the orphanage on the 
way, so if you have the customary parcel for the chil' 
dren " 

"It is upstairs, in my oratory, dear," she interposed. 
"Come with me — if the gentlemen will excuse us for a 
moment — and I will get it for you." 

"May we not all go up. Miss Valmond?" interposed 
Cleek. "I should like, if you do not mind, to get a view of 
the garden of Lemmingham House from the window where 
you were standing that night, and to have you explain the 
positions of the two men if you will." 

"Yes, certainly — come, by all means," she replied, and 
led the way forthwith. They had scarcely gone halfway 


down the passage to the staircase, however, when they came 
abreast of the open doorway of a room, dimly Kt by a shaded 
lamp, wherein an elderly woman sat huddled up in a deep 
chair, with her shaking head bowed over hands that moved 
restlessly and aimlessly — after the uneasy manner of 
an idiot's — and the shape of whose face could be but 
faintly seen through the veil of white hair that fell loosely 
over it. 

Cleek had barely time to recall Narkom's statement re- 
garding the semi-imbecile mother, when Miss Valmond gave 
a little cry of wonder and ran into the room. 

"Why, mother!" she said in her gentle way, "whatever 
are you doing down here, dearest? I thought you were still 
asleep in the oratory. When did you come down? " 

The imbecile merely mmnbled and muttered, and shook 
her nodding head, neither answering nor taking any notice 

"It is one of her bad nights," explained Miss Valmond, 
as she came out and rejoined them. "We can do nothing 
with her when she is like this. Horace, you will have to 
come home earher than usual to-night and help me to get 
her to bed." Then she went on, leading the way upstairs, 
until they came at length to a sort of sanctuary where Ma- 
donna faces looked down from sombre niches, and wax Hghta 
burnt with a scented flame on a draped and cushioned prie 
dieu. Here Miss Valmond, who was in the lead, went in, 
and, taking a paper-wrapped parcel from beside the little 
altar, came back and put it in her brother's hand and sent 
him on his way. 

"Was it from there you saw the occurrence. Miss Val- 
mond?" asked Cleek, looking past her into "the dim re- 
ligious light" of the sanctuary. 

"Oh, no," she made reply. "From the window of my 
bedroom, just on the other side of the wall. In here, look, 
see!" And she opened a door to the right and led them in. 


touching a key that flashed an electric lamp into radiance 
and illuminated the entire room. 

It was a large room furnished in dull oak and dark green 
after the stately, sombre style of a Gothic chapel, and at one 
end there was a curtained recess leading to a large bow win- 
dow. At the other there was a sort of altar banked high 
with white flowers, and at the side there was a huge cano- 
pied bed over the head of which hung an immense crucifix 
fastened to the wall that backed upon the oratory. It was 
a majestic thing, that crucifix, richly carved and exquisitely 
designed. Cleek went nearer and looked at it, his artistic 
eye captured by the beauty of it; and Miss Valmond, noting 
his interest, smiled. 

^*My brother brought me that from Rome," she said. 
*' Is it not divine, Mr. Headland? " 

*'Yes," he said. ^'But you must be more careful of it, I 
fear, Miss Valmond. Is it not chipping? Look! Isn't 
this a piece of it? " He bent and picked a tiny curled shver 
of wood from the narrow space between the two down-filled 
pillows of the bed, holding it out to her upon his palm. But, 
of a sudden, he smiled, Hfted the sKver to his nose, smelt 
it, and cast it away. ''The laugh is on me, I fear — it's 
only a cedar paring from a lead pencil. And now, please, 
I'd like to investigate the window." 

She led him to it at once, explaining where she stood on 
the eventful night; where she had seen the two figures pass, 
and where was the wall door through which the dying man 
had been thrust. 

"I wish I might see that door clearer," said Cleek; for 
night had fallen and the moon was not yet up. "Don't 
happen to have such a thing as a telescope or an opera glass, 
do you, Miss Valmond?" 

"My brother has a pair of field glasses downstairs in 
his room. Shall I run and fetch them for you? " 

X'd be very grateful if you would," said Cleek; and a 



moment after she had gone. ''Run down and get my 
sketching materials out of the locker, will you, Mr. Nar^ 
kom? " he added. ''I want to make a diagram of that house 
and garden." Then he sat down on the window- seat and 
for five whole minutes was alone. 

The field glasses and the sketching materials were brought, 
the garden door examined and the diagram made, Miss Val- 
mond and Narkom standing by and watching eagerly the 
whole proceeding. 

''That's all!" said Cleek, after a time, brushing the char- 
coal dust from his fingers, and snapping the elastic band over 
the sketch book. "I know my man at last, Mr. Narkom. 
Give me until ten o'clock to-morrow night, and then, if Miss 
Valmond will let us in here again, I'll capture Barrington- 
Edwards red-handed." 

"You are sure of him, then? " 

"As sure as I am that I'm alive. I'll lay a trap that will 
catch him. I promise you that. So if Miss Valmond will 
let us in here again " 

"Yes, Mr. Headland, I will." 

" Good ! Then let us say at ten o'clock to-morrow night 
— here in this room; you, I, your brother, Mr. Narkom- — 
all concerned ! " said Cleek. "At ten to the tick, remember. 
Now come along, Mr. Narkom, and let me be about weaving 
the snare that shall pull this Mr. Barrington-Edwards to the 
scaffold." Speaking, he bowed to Miss Valmond, and tak- 
ing Mr. Narkom's arm, passed out and went down the stairs 
to prepare for the last great act of tragedy. 


AT TEN to the tick on the following night, he had 
said, and at ten to the tick he was there — the old 
red limousine whirling him up to the door in company with 
Mr. Narkom, there to be admitted by Miss Valmond's 

*'My dear Mr. Headland, I have been on thorns ever 
since I heard," said he. ^'I hope and pray it is right, 
this assistance we are giving. But tell me, please — have 
you succeeded in your plans? Are you sure they will not 

*'To both questions, yes, Mr. Valmond. We'll have our 
man to-night. Now, if you please, where is your sister? " 

''Upstairs — in her own room — with my mother. We 
tried to get the mater to bed, but she is very fractious to- 
night and will not let Rose out of her sight for a single 
instant. But she will not hamper your plans, I'm sure. 
Come quickly, please — this way." Here he led themi on 
and up until they stood in Miss Valmond's bedroom and in 
Miss Valmond's presence again. She was there by the 
window, her imbecile mother sitting at her feet with her 
face in her daughter's lap, that daughter's soKcitous hand 
gently stroking her tumbled hair, and no light but that of 
the moon through the broad window illuminating the hushed 
and stately room. 

"I keep my word, you see. Miss Valmond," said Cleek, 
as he entered. ''And in five minutes' time if you watch 
from that window you all shall see a thing that will amaze 


''You have run the wretched man down, then, Mr. 

*' Yes — to the last ditch, to the wall itself," he answered, 
making room for her brother to get by him and make a 
place for himself at the window. ''Oh, it's a pretty httle 
game he's been playing, that gentleman, and it dates back 
twenty years ago when he was kicked out of his regiment 
in Ceylon." 

"In Ceylon ! I — er — God bless my soul, was he ever 
in Ceylon, Mr. Headland?" 

"Yes, Mr. Valmond, he was. It w^as at a time when 
there was what you might call a sapphire fever raging there, 
and precious stones w^re being unearthed in every unheard- 
of quarter. He got the fever with the rest, but he hadn't 
much money, so when he fell in with a lot of fellows who 
had heard of a Cingalese, one Bareva Singh, w^ho had a 
reef to sell in the Saffragam district, they made a pool be- 
tween them and bought the blessed thing, calling it after 
the man they had purchased it from, the Bareva Reef, 
setting out Kke a party of donkeys to mine it for themselves, 
and expecting to pull out sapphires by the bucketful." 

"Dear me, dear me, how very extraordinary! Of course 
they didn't? Or — did they? " 

"No, they didn't. A month's work convinced them that 
the ground was as empty of treasure as an eggshell, so they 
abandoned it, separated, and went their several ways. A 
few months ago, however, it w^as discovered that if they had 
had the implements to mine deeper, their dream would have 
been reahzed, for the reef w^as a perfect bed of sapphires 
- — and eight men held an equal share in it. The scheme, 
then, was to get rid of these men, secretly, one by one; for 
one — perhaps two men — to get the deeds held by the 
others; to pretend that they had been purchased from the 
original owners, and to prevent by murder those original 
owners from " 


He stopped suddenly and switched round. Miss Val- 
mond had risen and so had her mother. He was on the 
pair of them hke a leaping cat; there was a sharp cHck- 
click, a snarl, and a scream, and one end of a handcuff 
was on the wrist of each. 

''Got you, Miss Rosie Edgburn! Got you, Senor Juan 
Alvarez!" he rapped out sharply; then in a louder tone, as. 
the Reverend Horace made a bolt for the door: " Stop him, 
nab him, Mr. Narkom! Quick! Played sir, played. Come 
in, Petrie; come in, Hammond. Gentlemen, here they are, 
all three of them: Lieutenant Eric Edgburn, his daughter 
Rose, and Senor Juan Alvarez, the three brute beasts who 
sent five men to their death for the sake of a lode of sap- 
phires and the devil's lust for gain ! " 

''It's a He!" flung out the girl who had been known as- 
Rose Valmond. 

"Oh, no, it's not, you vixen! You loathsome creature 
that prostituted holy things and made a shield of religion 
to carry on a vampire's deeds. Look here, you beast of 
blasphemy: I know the secret of this," he said, and walked 
over and laid his hand on the crucifix at the head of the 
bed. "Petrie! round into the oratory with you. There's, 
a nob at the side of the prayer desk — press it when I shout. 
Oh, no, Miss Edgburn; no, I shan't dance circles nor put 
my fingers into my nose, nor bite the dust and die. Look 
how I dare it all. Now Petrie, now! " 

And lo ! as he spoke, out of the nostrils of the figure on the 
cross there rushed downward two streams of white vapour 
which beat upon the pillows and upon him, smothering 
both in white dust. 

"Face powder, Miss Edgburn, only face powder from 
your own Kttle case over there," he said. "I removed the; 
devil's dust last night when I was in this room alone." 

She made him no reply — only, like a cornered wretch^,, 
screamed out and fainted. 


*'Mr. Narkom, you have seen the method of adminis- 
tering the thing which caused the death of those five men; 
it is now only fair that 3^ou should know what that thing 
was," he said, turning to the superintendent. '' It is known 
by two names — De\drs Dust and Dust of Death, and both 
suit it well. It is the fine, feathery powder that grows on 
the young shoots of the bamboo tree — a favourite method 
of secret kilHng with the natives of the Malay Peninsula 
and those of Madagascar, the Philippines and Ceylon. 
When blown into the nostrils of a living creature it produces 
first an awful agony of suffocation, a feeling as though the 
brain is coming down and exuding from the nostrils, then 
delirium, during which the victim invariably falls on hJs 
face and bites the earth; then comes death. Death mth- 
out a trace, my friend, for the hellish dust all but evapo- 
rates, and the slight sediment that remains is carried out 
of the system by the spasm of enteric it produces. That 
is the riddle's solution. As for the rest, those men were 
lured here by letters — from Alvarez — telling them of the 
reef's great fortune, of the necessity for coming at once and 
bringing their deeds with them, and impressing upon them 
the possibility of being defrauded if they breathed one word 
to a mortal soul about their leaving or why. They came, 
they were invited to spend the night and to sleep upon that 
accursed bed, and — the devil's dust did the rest. I traced 
that out through poor Jim Peabody's sock. It was one of 
the blue yarn kind that are given to the inmates of work- 
houses. I traced him through that; and the others through 
the photographs. Each had been known to have received 
a letter from London, and each had in turn vanished without 
a word. Poor chaps! poor unhappy chaps! Let us hope, 
dear friend, that they have found ' the Place of Sapphires' 
after all." 


*^ T T OW did I come to suspect the girl?" said Cleek, an- 
^ A swering Narkom's query, as they swung off through 
the darkness in the red Hmousine, leaving Edgburn and his 
confederates in the hands of the poUce. ''Well, as a matter 
of fact, I did not suspect her at all, in the beginning — her 
saintly reputation saved her from any such thing as that. 
It was only when her father came in that I knew. And 
later, I knew even better — when I saw that pretended 
imbecile sitting there in that room; for the blundering fool 
had been ass enough to kick off his slippers and sit there in 
his stocking feet, and I spotted the Alvarez foot on the 
instant. Still, I didn't know but what the girl herself might 
be an innocent victim — a sort of dove in a vulture's nest — 
and it was not until I found that scrap of wood from a sharp- 
ened lead pencil that I began to doubt her. It was only 
when I promised that Barrington-Edwards should be 
trapped, that I actually knew. The light that flamed in her 
eyes in spite of her at that would have made an idiot under- 
stand. What's that? What should I suspect from the 
finding of that scrap of pencil? My dear Mr. Narkom, 
carry your mind back to that moment when I found the 
stain on poor Jim Peabody's thumb, and then examined the 
blade of his pocket knife. The marks on the latter showed 
clearly that the man had sharpened a pencil with it — and, 
of course, with the point of that pencil against the top of his 
thumb. By the peculiar bronze-like shine of the streaks, and 
the small particles of dust adhering to the knife blade, I felt 
persuaded that the pencil was an indehble one — in short, 



one of those which write a faint, blackish-Hlac hue which, 
on the appHcation of moisture, turns to a vivid and indeli- 
ble purple. The moisture induced by the act of thrusting 
his forefingers up his nostrils to allay the horrible sensation 
of the brain descending, which that hellish powder produces, 
together with the perspiration which comes with intense 
agony, had made such a change in the smears his thumb and 
forefinger bore, and left no room for doubt that at the time 
he was smitten he had either just begun or just concluded 
WTiting something with an indelible pencil which he had 
but recently sharpened. Poor wretch ! he of all the lot had 
some one belonging to him that was still hving — his poor 
old mother. It is very fair to suppose that, finding the 
Alvarez place so lavishly furnished, and ha\dng hopes that 
^reat riches were yet to be his, he sat down on that bed and 
began to write a few lines in his illiterate way to that mother 
before wholly undressing and getting between the sheets. 
The mark on his palm is a clear proof that when the powder 
suddenly descended upon him he involuntarily closed his 
hand on that letter and the perspiration transferred to his 
jflesh the shape of the scrawl upon which it rested. Pardon? 
How did I know through that scrawl that I was really on 
the track, and that it was the Bareva Reef that was at the 
bottom of the whole game? My dear Mr. Narkom, I won't 
insult your intelligence by explaining that. All you have 
to do is to turn that tracing upside down and look through 
it — or at it in a mirror — and you'll have the answer for 
yourself. What's that? The parcel the girl gave Edgburn 
to carry out on the pretext of taking it to an orphanage? 
Oh, that was how they were slowly getting rid of the vic- 
tims' clothes. Cutting them up into httle pieces and throw- 
ing them into the river, I suppose, or if not " 

He stopped suddenly, his ear caught by a warning sound; 
then turned in his seat and glanced through the little win- 
dow at the back of the limousine. 


"I thought as much," he said, half aloud; then leaned for- 
ward, caught up the pipe of the speaking tube, and signalled 
Lennard. ''Look sharp — taxi following us!" he said. 
*'Put on a sudden spurt — that chap will increase speed to 
keep pace with us — then pull up sharp and let the other 
fellow's impetus carry him by before he can help himself. 
Out with the light, Mr. Narkom — out with it quick ! " 

Both Lennard and his master followed instructions. Of 
a sudden the lights flicked out, the car leapt forward with 
a bound, then pulled up with a jerk that shook it from end 
to end. In that moment the taxi in the rear whizzed by 
them, and Narkom, leaning forward to look as it flashed 
past, saw seated within it the figure of Count Waldemar of 

''By James! Did you see that, Cleek?" he cried, and 
switched round and made a grab for Cleek's arm. 

But Cleek was not there. His seat was empty, and the 
door beside it was swinging ajar. 

"Well, I'll be jiggered!" exclaimed the superintendent, 
fairly carried out of himself — for, even in his old Vanish- 
ing Cracksman's days, when he had slipped the leash and 
eluded the poHce so often, the man had not made a more 
adroit, more silent, more successful getaway than this. 

"Of all the astonishing 1 Gad, an eel's a fool to him 

for slipping out of tight places. When did he go, I wonder, 
and where?" 

Never very strong on matters of detail, here curiosity 
tricked him into absolute indiscretion. SHding along the 
seat to the swinging door he thrust it open and leaned out 
into the darkness, for a purpose so evident that he who ran 
might read. That one who ran did, he had good reason to 
understand in the next instant, for, of a sudden, the taxi in 
advance checked its wild flight, swung round with a noisy 
scroo-op, and pelted back until the two vehicles stood cheek 
by jowl, so to speak, and the glare of its headlights was 


pouring full force upon Mr. Narkom and into the interior 
of the red limousine. 

"Here! Dash your infernal impudence," began he, 
blinking up at the driver through a glare which prevented 
him seeing that the taxicab's leather blinds had been dis- 
creetly pulled down, and its interior rendered quite invisible; 
but before he could add so much as another word to his pro- 
test the chauffeur's voice broke in with a blandness and an 
accent which told its own story. 

"Dix mille pardons, m'sieur," it commenced, then pulled 
itself up as if the owner of it had suddenly recollected him- 
self — and added abruptly in a farcical attempt to imitate 
the jargon of the fast-disappearing London cabby. "Keep 
of the 'air on, ole coq! Only wantin' to arsk of the question 
civile. Lost my bloomin' way. Put a cove on to the short 
cut to the 'Igh Street will yer, like a blessed Christian? 
I dunno where I are." 

Mr. Narkom was not suffered to make reply. Before 
he had more than grasped the fact that the speaker was 
undeniably a Frenchman, Lennard — out of the range of 
that dazzHng light — had made the discovery that he was 
yet more undeniably a Frenchman of that class from which 
the Apaches are recruited, and stepped into the breach 
with astonishing adroitness. 

"Oh, that's the trouble, is it?" he interposed. "My hat! 
Why, of course we'll put you on the way. Wot's more, we'll 
take you along and show you — won't we, guv'ner, eh? — 
so as you won't go astray till you gets there. 'Eads in and 
door shut. Superintendent," bringing the limousine around 
until it pointed in the same direction as the taxicab. "Now 
then, straight ahead, and f oiler yer nose, Jules; we'll be 
rubbin' shoulders with you the whole blessed way. And 
as the Dook of WelHngton said to Napoleon Bonaparte, 
*None of your larks, you blighter — you're a-comin' along 
with me!' " 


That he was, was a condition of affairs so inevitable that 
the chauffeur made no attempt to evade it; merely put on 
speed and headed straight for the distant High Street for 
the purpose of getting rid of his escort as soon as possible; 
and Lennard, putting on speed, likewise, and keeping pace 
with him, ran him neck and neck, until the heath was left 
far and away behind, the darkness gave place to a glitter 
of street lamps, the lonely roads to populous thoroughfares, 
and the way was left clear for Cleek to get off unfollowed 
and unmolested. 


SCREENED by that darkness, and close sheltered by 
the matted gorse which fringed and dotted the expanse 
of the nearby heath, he had been an interested witness to 
the entire proceeding. 

''Played, my lad, played!" he commented, putting his 
thoughts into mumbled words of laughing approval, as 
Lennard, taking the taxicab under guard, escorted it and 
its occupants out of the immediate neighbourhood; then, 
excessive caution prompting him to quell even this Httle 
ebullition, he shut up like an oyster and neither spoke, nor 
moved, nor made any sound until the two vehicles were 
represented by nothing but a purring noise dwindling away 
into the distance. 

When that time came, however, he rose, and facing the 
heath, forged out across its mist-wrapped breadth with that 
long, swinging, soldierly stride peculiar unto him, his fore- 
head puckered with troubled thought, his jaw clamped, and 
his hps compressed until his mouth seemed nothing more 
than a bleak sht gashed in a gray, unpleasant-looking mask. 

But after a while the night and the time and the place 
worked their own spell, and the troubled look dropped away; 
the dull eyes lighted, the grim features softened, and the 
curious crooked smile that w^as Nature's birth-gift to him 
broke down the rigid lines of the ''bleak sHt" and looped up 
one corner of his mouth. 

It was magic ground, this heath — a place thick set as the 
Caves of Manheur with the Sapphires of Memory — and 
to a nature such as his these things could not but appeal. 



Here Dollops had come into his life — a starvelling, an 
outcast ; derehct even in the very morning time of youth — 
a bit of human wreckage that another ten minutes would 
have seen stranded forever upon the reefs of crime. 

Here, too — on that selfsame night, when the devil had 
been cheated, and the boy had gone, and they two stood 
alone together in the mist and darkness — he had first laid 
aside the mask of respectability and told Ailsa Lome the 
truth about himself! Of his Apache tunes — of his Van- 
ishing Cracksman's days — and, in the telling, had w^atched 
the light die out of her dear eyes and dread of him darken 
them, when she knew. 

But not for always, thank God! For, in later days — 
when Time had lessened the shock, when she came to know 
him better, when the threads of their two lives had become 
more closely woven, and the hope had grown to be some- 
thing more than a mere possibility . . . 

He laughed aloud, remembering, and with a sudden rush 
of animal spirits twitched off his hat, flung it up and caught 
it as it fell, after the manner of a happy boy. 

God, what a world — what a glorious, glorious world! 
All things were possible in it if a man but walked straight 
and knew how to wait. 

Well, please God, a part, at least, of his long waiting 
would be over in another month. She would be back in 
England then — her long visit to the Hawksleys ended and 
nothing before her now but the pleasant excitement of 
trousseau days. For the coming autumn would see the final 
act of restitution made, the last Vanishing Cracksman debt 
paid, to the uttermost farthing; and when that time came 
c . ' . He flung up his hat again and shouted from sheer 
excess of joy, and forged on through the mist and darkness 

His way lay across the great common to the Vale of 
Health district, and thence down a slanting road and a slop- 


ing street to the Hampstead Heath Station of the Tube 
Railway, and he covered the distance to such good effect 
that half -past eleven found him "down under," swaying to 
the rhythmic movement of an electric train and arrowing 
through the earth at a lively clip. 

Ten minutes later he changed over to yet another under- 
ground system, swung on for half an hour or so through 
gloom and bad air and the musty smell of a damp tunnel 
before the drop of the land and the rise of the roadbed car- 
ried the train out into the open and the air came fresh and 
sweet and pure, as God made it, over field and flood and 
dewy garden spaces; and away to the west a prickle of lights 
on a quiet river told where the stars mirrored themselves in 
the glass of Father Thames. 

At a toy station in the hush and loneliness of the pleasant 
country ways his long ride came to an end at last, and he 
swung off into the balm and fragrance of the night to face 
a two-mile walk along quiet, shadow-filled lanes and over 
wet wastes of young bracken to a wee little house in the 
heart of a green wilderness, with a high-walled, old-world 
garden surrounding it, and, in the far background, a gloom 
of woodland smeared in darker purple against the purple 
darkness of the sky. 

No light shone out from the house to greet him — no light 
could come from behind that screening wall, unless it were 
one set in an upper window — yet he was certain the place 
was not deserted; for, as he came up out of the darkness, 
catlike of tread and catlike of ear, he was willing to swear 
that he could catch the sound of some one moving about 
restlessl;^ in the shadow of that high, brick wall — and the 
experiences of the night made him cautious of things that 
moved in darkness. 

He stopped short, and remained absolutely still for half a 
minute, then, stooping, swished his hand through the 
bracken in excellent imitation of a small animal running. 


und shrilled out a note that was uncannily like the death 
squeal of a stoat-caught rabbit. 

*' Gawd's truth, guv'ner, is it you at last, sir? And me 
never seein' nor hearin' a blessed thing!" spoke a voice in 
answer, from the wall's foot; then a latch clicked and, as 
Cleek rose to his feet, a garden door swung inward, a rec- 
tangle of light shone in the darkness, and silhouetted against 
it stood Dollops. 

*'What are you doing out here at this time of night, you 
young monkey? Don't you know it's almost one o'clock? " 
said Cleek, as he went forward and joined the boy. 

"Don't I know it, says you? Don't 1 justr^ he gave 
back. "There aren't a minute since the night come on 
that I haven' t counted, sir — not a bloomin' one; and if you 

hadn't turned up just as you did Well, let that pass, 

as the Suffragette said when she heaved 'arf a brick through 
the shop window. Gawd's truth, guv'ner, do you reahse 
that you've been gone since yesterday afternoon and I 
haven't heard a word from you in all that time?" 

"Well, what of that? It's not the first time by dozens 
that I've done the same thing. Why should it worry you 
at this late day? Look here, my young man, you're not 

developing 'nerves' are you? Because, if you are 

Turn round and let's have a look at you ! Why, you are as 
pale as a ghost, you young beggar, and shaking like a leaf. 
Anything wrong with you, old chap? " 

"Not as I knows of," returned Dollops, making a brave 
attempt to smile and be his old happy-go-lucky, whimsical 
self, albeit he wasn't carrying it off quite successfully, for 
there was a droop to his smile and a sort of whimper under- 
lying his voice, and Cleek's keen eyes saw that his hand 
groped about blindly in its effort to find the fastenings of 
the garden door. 

"Leastwise, nothing as matters now that you are here, 
sir. And I am glad yer back, guv'ner — Lawd, yuss! 


'No thin' like company to buck you up/ as the bull said 
when he tossed the tinker; so of course " 

''Here! You let those fastenings alone. I'll attend to 
them ! " rapped in Cleek's voice with a curious note of alarm 
in it, as he moved briskly forward and barred and locked 
the wall door. *' If I didn't know that eating, not druiking, 
was your particular faiUng " 

Here he stopped, his half-uttered comment cut into by a 
bleating cry, and he screwed round to face a startling situa- 
tion. For there was Dollops, leaning heavily against a 
flowering almond tree, his face hke a dead face for colour. 
and his fingers clawing frantically at the lower part of his 
waistcoat, doubhng and twisting in the throes of an internal 

The gravelled pathway gave forth two sharp scrunches, 
and Cleek was just in time to catch him as he lurched for- 
ward and sprawled heavily against him. The man's arms 
closed instinctively about the twisting, sweat-drenched, 
helpless shape, and with great haste and infinite tenderness 
gathered it up and carried it into the house; but he had 
scarcely more than laid the boy upon a sofa and fit the lamp 
of the small apartment which served them as a general liv- 
ing-room, when all the agony of uncertainty which beset 
his mind regarding the genesis of this terrifying attack 
vanished in a sudden rush of enlightenment. 

All that was left of a bounteous and strikingly diversified 
afternoon tea still littered the small round dining table, and 
there, on one plate, lay the shells of two crabs, on another, 
the remains of a large rhubarb tart, on a third, the skins of 
five bananas leaning coquettishly up against the lid of an 
open pickle jar, and hard by there was a pint tumbler with 
the white blur of milk dimming it. 

'' Good Lord ! The young anaconda ! " blurted out Cleek, 
as he stood and stared at this appalling array. ''No won- 
der, no wonder !" Then he turned round on his heel, looked 


at the writhing and moaning boy, and in a sudden fever of 
doing, peeled off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and made a 
bolt for the kitchen stove, the hot-water kettle, and the 
medicine chest. 

The result of Master Dollops' little gastronomic experi- 
ment scarcely needs to be recorded. It is sufficient to say 
that he had the time of his Hfe that night; that he kept Cleek 
busy every minute for the next twenty-four hours wringing 
out flannels in hot water and dosing him with homely rem- 
edies, and that when he finally came through the siege 
was as limp as a wet newspaper and as feeble as a good many 
dry ones. 

*' What you need to pull yourself together is a change, you 
reckless young ostrich — a week's roughing it in the open 
country by field and stream, and as many miles as possible 
from so much as the odour of a pastry cook's shop," said 
Cleek, patting him gently upon the shoulder. "A nice sort 
of assistant you are — keeping a man out of his bed for 
twenty-four hours, with his heart in his mouth and his hair 
on end, you young beggar. Now, now, now! None of 
your blubbing ! Sit tight while I run down and make some 
gruel for you. After that I'll nip out and 'phone through to 
the Yard and tell Mr. Narkom to have somebody look up a 
caravan that can be hired, and we'll be off for a week's 
^gypsying' in Yorkshire, old chap." 

He did — coming back later with a piece of surprising 
news. For it just so happened that the idea of a week's 
holiday-making, a week's rambhng about the green lanes, 
the broad moors, and through the wild gorges of the West 
Riding, and living the simple life in a caravan, appealed to 
Mr. Maverick Narkom as being the most desirable thing 
in the world at that moment, and he made haste to ask 
Cleek's permission to share the holiday with him. As 
nothing could have been more to his great ally's Hking, the 
»<natter was settled forthwith. A caravan was hired by tele- 


gram to Sheffield, and at ten the next morning the Kttle 
party turned its back upon London and fared forth to the 
pleasant country lands, the charm of laughing waters, and 
the magic that hides in trees. 

For five days they led an absolutely idylHc hf e ; loafing in 
green wildernesses and sleeping in the shadow of whispering 
woods; and tliis getting back to nature proved as much of a 
tonic to the two men as to the boy himself — refreshing 
both mind and body, putting red blood into their veins, and 
breathing the breath of God into their nostrils. 

Having amply provisioned the caravan before starting, 
they went no nearer to any human habitation than they 
were obHged to do in passing fromi one district to another; 
and one day was so exact a pattern of the next that its 
history might have stood for them all : up with the dawn and 
the birds and into woodland pool or tree-shaded river ; then 
gathering fuel and making a fire and cooking breakfast; 
then washing the utensils, harnessing the horses, and moving 
on again — sometimes Cleek driving, som^etimes Narkom, 
sometimes the boy — stopping w^hen they were hungry to 
prepare lunch just as they had prepared breakfast, then 
forging on again until they found some tree-hedged dell or 
bosky wood where they might spend the night, crooned to 
sleep by the wind in the leaves, and watched over by the 
sentinel stars. 

So they had spent the miajor part of the week, and so they 
might have spent it all, but that chance chose to thrust them 
suddenly out of idleness into activity, and to bring them — ■ 
here, in this Arcadia — face to face again with the evils of 
mankind and the harsh duty of the law. 

It had gone nine o'clock on that fifth night v/hen a curious 
thing happened: they had halted for the night by the 
banks of a shallow, chattering stream which flowed through 
a wayside spinney, beyond whose clustering treetops they 
had seen, before the fight failed, the castellated top of a dis- 


tant tower and, farther afield, the weathercock on an up- 
lifting church spire; they had supped and were enjoying 
their ease — the two men sprawHng at full length on the 
ground enjoying a comfortable smoke, while Dollops, with 
a mouth harmonica, was doing *' Knocked 'Em in the Old 
Kent Road," his back against a tree, liis eyes upturned in 
ecstasy, his long legs stretched out upon the turf, and his 
feet crossed one over the other — and all about them was 
peace; all the sordid, money-grubbing, crime-stained world 
seemed milhons of miles away, when, of a sudden, there 
came a swift rush of bodies — trampling on dead leaves and 
brushing against Hve ones — then a voice cried out com- 
mandingly, "Surrender yourselves in the name of the king ! " 
and scrambling to a sitting position, they looked up to find 
themselves confronted by a constable, a gamekeeper, and 
two farm labourers — the one with drawn truncheon and 
the other three with cocked guns. 


*^ T TULLO, I say!" began Mr. Narkom, in amazement. 

XJ. "Why, what the dickens " But he was 

suffered to get no farther. 

''You mind your P's and Q's ! I warn you that anything 
you say will be used against you!" interjected sharply and 
authoritatively the voice of the constable. "Hawkins, 
you and Marlow keep close guard over these chaps while 
me and Mr. Simpkins looks round for the animal. I said it 
would be the work of g}^sies, didn't I now, Mr. Simpkins?" 
addressing the gamekeeper. "Come on and let's have a 
look for the beast. Keep eyes peeled and gun at full cock, 
Mr. Simpkins, and give un both barrels if un makes 
to spring at us. This be a sharp capture, Mr. Simpkins 
— what?" 

"Aye, but un seems to take it uncommon cool, Mr. Nip- 
pers — one on 'em's larfiin' fit to bust hisself !" replied the 
gamekeeper as Cleek slapped both thighs, and throwing 
back his head, voiced an appreciative guffaw. "Un doan't 
look much loike gypsies either from t' little as Ah can see 
of 'em in this tomfool loight. Wait a bit till Ah scoop up 
an armful o' leaves and throw 'em on the embers o' fire 

He did so forthwith; and the moment the dry leaves fell 
on the remnants of the fire which the caravanners had used 
to cook their evening meal there was a gush of aromatic 
smoke, a sudden puff, and then a broad ribbon of Hght 
rushed upward and dispelled every trace of darkness. And 
by the aid of that ribbon of fight Mr. Nippers saw some- 



thing which made him almost collapse with astonishment 
and chagrin. 

The great of the world may, and often do, forget their 
meetings with the small fry, but the small fry never cease 
to remember their meetings with the great, or to treasure a 
vivid remembrance of that immortal day when they were 
privileged to rub elbows with the elect. 

Five years had passed since Mrs. Maverick Narkom, 
seeking a place wherein to spend the summer holidays with 
the Httle Narkoms and their nurses, had let her choice fall 
upon Win ton-Old-Bridges and had dwelt there for two 
whole months. Three times during her sojourn her liege 
lord had come down for a week-end with his wife and 
children, and during one of these brief visits, meeting Mr. 
Ephraim Nippers, the village constable in the public high- 
way, he had deigned to stop and speak to the man and to 
present him with a sixpenny cigar. 

Times had changed since then; Mr. Nippers was now head 
constable for the district, but he still kept that cigar under a 
glass shade on the drawing-room whatnot, and he still treas- 
ured a vivid recollection of the great man who had given it 
to him and whom he now saw sitting on the ground with his 
coat off and his waistcoat unbuttoned, his moustache un- 
curled, wisps of dried grass clinging to his tousled hair, and 
all the dignity of office conspicuous by its absence. 

'^Oh, lummy!" said Mr. Nippers with a gulp. ^'Put 
down the hammers of them guns, you two — put 'em down 
quick! It's Mr. Narkom — Mr. Maverick Narkom, super- 
intendent at Scotland Yard!" 

*' Hullo!" exclaimed Mr. Narkom, shading his eyes from 
the fireHght and leaning forward to get a clearer view of the 
speaker. ''How the dickens do you know that, my man? 
And who the dickens are you, anyway? Can't say that I 
remember ever seeing your face before." 

Mr. Nippers hastened to explain that little experience of 


five years ago; but the circumstance which had impressed 
itself so deeply upon his memory had passed entirely out of 
the superintendent's. 

''Oh, that's it, is it?" said he. ''Can't say that I recall 
the occasion; but Mrs. Narkom certainly did stop at Win- 
ton-Old-Bridges some four or five summers ago, so of course 
it's possible. By the way, my man, what caused you to 
make this sudden descent upon us? And what are these 
chaps who are with you bearing arms for? Anything up? " 

"Oh, lummy, sir, yes! A murder's just been committed 
— leastwise it's only just been discovered; but it can't have 
been long since it was committed, Mr. Narkom, for Miss 
Renfrew, who found him, sir, and give the alarm, she says as 
the poor dear gentleman was alive at a quarter to eight, 
'cause she looked into the room at that time to ask him if 
there was anything he wanted, and he spoke up and told her 
no, and went on with his figgerin' just the same as usual." 

"As usual?" said Cleek. "Why do you say 'as usual,' 
my friend? Was the man an accountant of some sort? " 

"Lummy! no, sir. A great inventor is what he is — or 
was, poor gentleman. Reckon you must 'a' heard of un 
some time or another — most everybody has. Nosworth 
is the name, sir — Mr. Septimus Nosworth of the Round 
House. You could see the tower of it over yon if you was to 
step out into the road and get clear of these trees." 

Cleek was on his feet like a flash. 

"Not the great Septimus Nosworth?" he questioned 
eagerly. "Not the man who invented Lithamite? — the 
greatest authority on high explosives in England? Not that 
Septimus Nosworth, surely?" 

"Aye — him's the one, poor gentleman. I thought it 
like as the name would be familiar, sir. A goodish few have 
heard of un, one way and another." 

"Yes," acquiesced Cleek. "Lithamite carried his name 
from one end of the globe to the other; and his family 


affairs came into unusual prominence in consequence. 
Widower, wasn't he? — hard as nails and bitter as gall. Had 
an only son, hadn't he? — a wild young blade who went the 
pace: took up with chorus girls, music hall ladies, and per- 
sons of that stripe, and got kicked out from under the par- 
ental roof in consequence." 

^'Lirnimy, now! think of you a-knowin' about all that!" 
said Mr. Nippers, in amazement. *'But then, your bein' 
with Mr. Narkom and him bein' what he is — why, of 
course! Scotland Yard it do know everything, I'm told, 

"Yes — it reads the papers occasionally, Mr. Nippers," 
said Cleek. "I may take it from your reply, may I not, 
that I am correct regarding Mr. Septimus Nosworth's son? " 

"Indeed, yes, sir — right as rain. Leastwise, from what 
I've heard. I never see the young gentleman, myself. 
Them things you mention happened before Mr. Nosworth 
come to live in these parts — a matter of some four years 
or more ago. Alwuss had his laboratory here, sir — built 
it on the land he leased from Sir Ralph Droger's father in the 
early sixties — and used to come over frequent and shut 
hisself in the Round House for days on end ; but never come 
here to live until after that flare-up with Master Harry. 
Come then and built livin' quarters beside the Round House 
and, after a piece, fetched Miss Renfrew and old Patty Dax 
over to live with un." 

"Miss Renfrew and old Patty Dax? Who are they?" 

"Miss Renfrew is his niece, sir — darter of a dead sister. 
Old Patty Dax, she war the cook. I dunno what her be 
now, though — her died six months ago and un hired Mis- 
tress Armroyd in her place. French piece, her am, though 
bein' widder of a Lancashire man, and though I doan't 
much fancy foreigners nor their ways, this I will say: her 
keeps the house Hke a pin and her cookin's amazin' tasty 
— indeed, yes." 


*' You are an occasional caller in the servants' hall, I see, 
Mr. Nippers," said Cleek, serenely, as he took up his coat 
and shook it, preparatory to putting it on. ''I think, Mr. 
Narkom, that in the interests of the public at large it will 
be well for some one a Httlemore efficient than the local con- 
stabulary to look into this case, so, if you don't mind mak- 
ing yourself a trifle more presentable, it will be as well for 
us to get Mr. Nippers to show us the way to the scene of 
the tragedy. While you are doing it I will put a few ' Head- 
land ' questions to our friend here if you don't mind assur- 
ing him that I am competent to advise." 

*' Right you are, old chap," said Narkom, taking his cue. 
^'Nippers, this is Mr. George Headland, one of the best of 
my Yard detectives. He'll very likely give you a tip or two in 
the matter of detecting crimes, if you pay attention to what 
he says." 

Nippers "paid attention" forthwith. The idea of being 
in consultation ^\ith any one connected with Scotland Yard 
tickled his very soul; and, in fancy, he already saw his name 
getting into the newspapers of London, and his fame spread- 
ing far beyond his native weald. 

"I won't trouble you for the full details of the murder, 
Mr. Nippers," said Cleek. ''Those, I fancy, this Miss Ren- 
frew will be able to supply when I see her. For the pres- 
ent, tell me: how many other occupants does the house hold 
beyond these two of whom you have spoken — Miss Ren- 
frew and the cook, Mrs. Armroyd? " 

''None, sir, but the scullery maid, Emily, and the par- 
lour maid, Clark. But both of them is out to-night, sir — 
havin' went to a concert over at Beattie Comers. A friend 
of Mistress Armroyd's sent her two tickets, and her not 
bein' able to go herself, her thought it a pity for 'em to be 
wasted, so her give 'em to the maids." 

"I see, no male servants at all, then? " 

"No, sir ; not one. There's Jones — the handy man — as 


comes in mornin's to do the rough work and the haulin' 
and carryin' and things Uke that; and there's the gardener 
and Mr. Kemper — him as is Mr. Nosworth's assistant 
in the laboratory, sir — but none of 'em is ever in the house 
after five o'clock. Set against havin' men sleep in the house 
was Mr. Nosworth — swore as never another should after 
him and Master Harry had their fallin' out. Why, sir, he 
was that bitter he'd never even allow Mr. Charles to set 
foot in the place, just because him and Master Harry used 
to be friends — which makes it precious hard on Miss Ren- 
frew, I can tell you." 

^'As how? Is this 'Mr. Charles' connected with Miss 
Renfrew in any way? " 

''Lummy! yes, sir — he's her young man. Been sweet on 
each other ever since they was in pinafores; but never had 
no chance to marry because Mr. Charles — Mr. Charles 
Drummond is his full name, sir — he hasn't one shilKn' 
to rub against another, and Miss Renfrew she's a Httle 
worse off than him. Never gets no thin', I'm told, for 
keepin' house for her uncle — just her food and lodgin' and 
clothes — and her slavin' like a nigger for him the whole 
blessed time. Keeps his books and superintends the runnin' 
of the house, she do, but never gets a brass farthin' for it, 
poor girl. I don't like to speak ill of the dead, Mr. Head- 
land, sir, but this I must say: A rare old skinflint was Mr. 
Septimus Nosworth — wouldn't part with a groat unless 
un was forced to. But praise be, her'll get her dues now; 
fegs, yes! unless old skinflint went and changed his will 
without her knowin'." 

"Oho!" said Cleek, with a strong rising inflection. *'His 
will was made in Miss Renfrew's favour, was it? " 

"Aye. That's why her come and put up with un and all 
his hardheartedness — denyin' her the pleasure o' ever 
seein' her young man just because him and Master Harry 
had been friends and playmates when t' pair of un was just 


boys in knickers and broad collars. There be a stone heart 
for you.'' 

*' Rather. Now one more question: I think you said it 
was Miss Renfrew who gave the alarm when the murder 
was discovered, Mr. Nippers. How did she give it and to 

"Eh, now! to me and Mistress Armroyd, of course. Me 
and her war sittin' in the kitchen havin' a bite o' supper at 
the time. Gorham, he war there, too, in the beginnin'; but 
un didn't stop, of course — 'twouldn't 'a' done for the pair 
of us to be oft" duty together." 

"Oh! is Gorham a constable, then?" 

"Aye — under constable: second to me. Got un ap- 
pointed six months ago. Him had just gone a bit of a time 
when Miss Renfrew come rushin' in and shrieked out about 
the murder; but he heard the rumpus and came poundin' 
back, of course. I dunno what I'd 'a' done if un hadn't, for 
Miss Renfrew her went from one faintin' fit to another — 
'twas just orful. Gorham helped Ah to carry her up to the 
sittin'-room, wheer Mistress Armroyd burnt feathers under 
her nose, and when we'd got her round a bit we all three 
went outside and round to the laboratory. That's when we 
first see the prints of the animal's feet. Mistress Armroyd 
spied 'em first — all over the flower bed just under the 
laboratory window." 

"Oho! then that is what you meant when you alluded to 
an 'animal' when you pounced down upon us, was it? I 
see. One v/ord more: what kind of an animal was it? Or 
couldn't you tell from the marks? " 

"No, sir, I couldn't — nobody could unless it might be 
Sir Ralph Droger. He'll be like to, if anybody. Keeps all 
sorts of animals and birds and things in great cages in 
Droger Park, does Sir Ralph. One thing I can swear to, 
though, sir: they warn't like the footprints of any animal 
as I ever see. Theer be a picture o' St. Jarge and the Dragon 


on the walls o' Town Hall at Birchampton, Mr. Head- 
land, sir, and them footprints is more like the paws of that 
dragon than anything else I can call to mind. Scaly and 
clawed they is — like the thing as made 'em was part bird 
and part beast — and they're a good twelve inches long, 
every one of 'em." 

"Hum-m-m! That's extraordinary. Deeply imprinted, 
are they?" 

''Lummy! yes, sir. The animal as made 'em must have 
weighed ten or twelve stone at least. Soon as I see them, 
sir, I knowed I had my work cut out, so I left Gorham in 
charge of the house, rattled up these two men and Mr. Simp- 
kins, here — which all three is employed at Droger Park, 
sir — and set out hot foot to look for gypsies." 


'"Cause Mistress Armroyd she says as she see a gypsy 
lurkin' round the place just before dark, sir; and he had a 
queer thing Hke a bear's muzzle in his hand." 

"Ah, I see!" said Cleek; and gave one of his odd smiles 
as he turned round and looked at the superintendent. "All 
ready, Mr. Narkom? Good! Let us go over to the Round 
House and investigate this interesting case. Dollops, stop 
where 3^ou are and look after the caravan. If we are away 
more than a couple of hours, tumble into bed and go to 
sleep. We may be a short time or we may be a long one. 
In affairs Hke this one never knows." 

"Any ideas, old chap?" queried Narkom in a whisper as 
they forged along together in the wake of Nippers and his 
three companions. 

"Yes — a great many," answered Cleek. " I am particu- 
larly anxious, Mr. Narkom, to have a look at those foot- 
prints and an interview with Miss Renfrew. I want to 
meet that young lady very much indeed." 


TWENTY minutes later his desires in that respect were 
granted; and, having been introduced by Mr. Nip- 
pers to the Uttle gathering in the sitting-room of the house of 
disaster as "a friend of mine from Scotland Yard, miss," 
he found himself in the presence of one of those meek-faced, 
dove-eyed, "mousy" Httle bodies who seem born to be "pa- 
tient Griseldas"; and in looking at her he was minded of thp 
description of "Lady Jane" in the poem: 

"Her pulse was slow, milk white her skin — 
She had not blood enough to sin." 

Years of repression had told upon her, and she looked 
older than she really was — so old and so dragged out, in 
fact, that Mrs. Armroyd, the cook, appeared youthful and 
attractive in contrast. Indeed, it was no wonder that Mr. 
Ephraim Nippers had been attracted by that good soul; 
for, although her hair was streaked with gray, and her figure 
was of the "sack of flour" order, and her eyes were assisted 
in their offices by a pair of steel-bowed spectacles, her face 
was still youthful in contour, and Mr. Narkom, looking at 
her, concluded that at twenty-four or twenty-five she must 
have been a remarkably pretty and remarkably fascinating 
woman. What Cleek's thoughts were upon that subject 
it is impossible to record ; for he merely gave her one look on 
coming into the room, and then took no further notice of her 

^'Indeed, Mr. Headland, I am glad — I am very, very 



glad — that fortune has sent you into this neighbourhood 
at this terrible time," said Miss Renfrev^r when Cleek was 
introduced. ''I do not wish to say anything disparaging of 
Mr. Nippers, but you can see for yourself how unfitted such 
men as he and his assistant are to handle an affair of this 
importance. Indeed, I cannot rid my mind of the thought 
that if more competent poHce were on duty here the murder 
would not have happened. In short, that the assassin, 
whoever he maybe, counted upon the blundering methods of 
these men as his passport to safety." 

''My own thought precisely," said Cleek. ''Mr. Nip- 
pers has given me a brief outKne of the affair — would you 
mind giving me the full details, Miss Renfrew? At what 
hour did Mr. Nosworth go into his laboratory? Or don't 
you know, exactly?" 

"Yes, I know to the fraction of a moment, Mr. Headland. 
I was looking at my watch at the time. It was exactly 
eight minutes past seven. We had been going over the 
monthly accounts together, when he suddenly got up, and 
without a word walked through that door over there. It 
leads to a covered passage connecting the house proper with 
the laboratory. That, as you may have heard, is a cir- 
cular building with a castellated top. It was built wholly 
and solely for the carrying on of his experiments. There 
is but one floor and one window — a very small one about 
six feet from the ground, and on the side of the Round House 
which looks away from this building. Nothing but the 
door to that is on this side, light being supplied to the in- 
terior by a roof made entirely of heavy corrugated glass." 

*'I see. Then the place is like a huge tube." 

"Exactly — and Hned entirely with chilled steel. Such 
few wooden appliances as are necessary for the equipment 
of the place are thickly coated with asbestos. I made no 
comment when my uncle rose and walked in there without 
a word. I never did. For the past six or seven months 


he had been absorbed in working out the details of a new 
invention; and I had become used to his jumping up like 
that and leaving me. We never have supper in this house 
— my uncle always called it a useless extravagance. In- 
stead, we defer tea until six o'clock and make that the final 
meal of the day. It was exactly five minutes to seven when 
I finished my accounts, and as I had had a hard day of it, 
I decided to go to bed early, after ha\dng first taken a walk 
as far as the old bridge where I hoped that somebody would 
be waiting for me." 

"I know," said Cleek, gently. ^'I have heard the story. 
It would be Mr. Charles Drummond, would it not?" 

^'Yes. He was not there, however. Something must 
have prevented his coming." 

"Hum-m-ml Go on, please." 

''Before leaving the house, it occurred to me that I ought 
to look into the laboratory and see if there was anything my 
uncle would be hkely to need for the night, as I intended to 
go straightway to bed on my return. I did so. He was 
sitting at his desk, immediately under the one window of 
which I have spoken, and with his back to me, when I looked 
in. He answered my inquiry with a curt ' No — nothing. 
Get out and don't worry me ! ' I immediately shut the door 
and left him, returning here by way of the covered passage 
and going upstairs to make some necessary changes in my 
dress for the walk to the old bridge. When I came down, 
ready for my journey, I looked at the clock on the mantel 
over there. It was exactly seventeen minutes to eight 
o'clock. I had been a Httle longer in dressing than I had 
anticipated being; so, in order to save time in getting to the 
trysting place, I concluded to make a short cut by going 
out of the rear door and crossing diagonally through our 
grounds instead of going by the pubUc highway as usual. 
I had scarcely more than crossed the threshold when I ran 
plump into Constable Gorham. As he is rather a favourite 


with good Mrs. Armroyd here, I fancied that he had been 
paying her a visit, and was just coming away from the 
kitchen. Instead, he rather startled me by stating that he 
had seen something which he thought best to come round 
and investigate. In short, that, as he was patrolKng the 
highway, he had seen a man vault over the wall of our 
grounds and, bending down, dart out of sight like a hare. 
He was almost positive that that man was Sir Ralph Drogei 
Of course that frightened me almost out of my wits." 


''There was bad blood between my uncle and Sir Ralph 
Droger — bitter, bad blood. As you perhaps know, my 
uncle held this ground on a hfe lease from the Droger estate. 
That is to say, so long as he lived or refused to vacate that 
lease, no Droger could oust him nor yet Hft one spadeful 
of earth from the property." 

"Does Sir Ralph desire to do either? " 

"He desires to do both. • Borings secretly made have 
manifested the fact that both Barnsley thick-coal and iron 
ore underhe the place. Sir Ralph wishes to tear down the 
Round House and this building and to begin mining opera- 
tions. My uncle, who has been offered the full value of 
every stick and stone, has always obstinately refused to 
budge one inch or to lessen the lease by one half hour. 'It 
is for the term of my life,' he has always said, 'and for the 
term of my Hfe I'll hold it!' " 

"Oho!" said Cleek; and then puckered up his lips as if 
about to whistle. 

"Under such circumstances," went on Miss Renfrew, 
"it was only natural that I should be horribly frightened, 
and only too willing to act upon the constable's suggestion 
that we at once look into the Round House and see if every- 
thing was right with my uncle." 

"Why should the constable suggest that?" 

"Everybody in the neighbourhood knows of the bitter 


ill feeling existing between the two men; so, of course, it 
was only natural." 

''Huni-m-m! Yes! Just so. Did you act on Con- 
stable Gorham's suggestion, then?" 

*'Yes. I led the way in here and then up the covered 
passage to the laboratory and opened the door. My uncle 
was sitting exactly as he had been when I looked in before 
— his back to me and his face to the window — but al- 
though he did not turn, it was evident that he was annoyed 
by my disturbing him, for he growled angrily, 'What the 
devil are you coming in here and disturbing me like this 
for, Jane? Get out and leave me alone.' " 

''Hum-m-m!" said Cleek, drawing dowTi his brows and 
pinching his chin. ''Any mirrors in the Round House?" 

"Mirrors? No, certainly not, Mr. Headland. WTiy?" 

"Nothing — only that I was wondering, if as you say, he 
never turned and you never spoke, how in the world he 
knew that it really was you, that's all." 

"Oh, I see what you mean," said Miss Renfrew, knot- 
ting up her brows. "It does seem a little peculiar when 
one looks at it in that way. I never thought of it before. 
Neither can I explain it, Mr. Headland, any more than to 
say that I suppose he took it for granted. And, as it hap- 
pened, he was right. Besides, as you will remember, I had 
intruded upon him only a short time before." 

"Quite so," said Cleek. "That's what makes it appear 
stranger than ever. Under the circumstances one might 
have expected him to say not 'What are you coming in here 
for,' but, 'What are you coming in for again.' Still, of 
course, there's no accounting for Httle lapses like that. Go 
on, please — what next? " 

"Why, of course I immediately explained what Constable 
Gorham had said, and why I had looked in. To which he 
rephed, 'The man's an ass. Get out!' Upon which I 
closed the door, and the constable and I went away at once." 


'^ Constable there with you during it all, then? " 

*'Yes, certainly — in the covered passage, just behind 
me. He saw and heard everything; though, of course, 
neither of us actually entered the laboratory itself. There 
was really no necessity when we knew that my uncle was 
safe and sound, you see." 

^' Quite so," agreed Cleek. ''So you shut the door and 
went away — and then what? " 

''Constable Gorham went back to his beat, and I flew 
as fast as I could to meet Mr. Drummond. It is only a 
short way to the old bridge at best, and by taking that short 
cut through the grounds, I was there in less than ten minutes. 
And by half-past eight I was back here in a greater state 
of terror than before." 

"And why? Were you so much alarmed that Mr. Drum- 
mond did not keep the appointment? " 

"No. That did not worry me at all. He is often unable 
to keep his appointments with me. He is filling the post of 
private secretary to a large company promoter, and his time 
is not his own. What terrified me was that, after waiting 
a few minutes for him, I heard somebody running along the 
road, and a few moments later Sir Ralph Droger flew by me 
as if he were being pursued. Under ordinary circumstances 
I should have thought that he was getting into training for 
the autumn sports ( he is, you may know, very keen on 
athletics, and holds the County Club's cup for running 
and jumping), but when I remembered what Constable 
Gorham had said, and saw that Sir Ralph was coming from 
the direction of this house, all my wits flew; I got into a 
sort of panic and almost collapsed with fright." 

"And all because the man was coming from the direction 
of this house?" 

"Not that alone," she answered with a shudder. "I 
have said that I should under ordinary circumstances have 
thought he was merely training for the autumn sports — 


for, you see, he was in a running costume of white cotton 
stuff and his legs were bare from the knee down — but as- 
he shot past me in the moonhght I caught sight of something 
like a huge splash of blood on his clothes, and couphng that 
with the rest I nearly went out of my senses. It wasn't 
until long afterward I recollected that the badge of the 
County Club is the winged foot of Mercury wrought in 
brilHant scarlet embroidery. To me, just then, that thing 
of red was blood — my uncle's blood — and I ran and ran 
and ran until I got back here to the house and flew up the 
covered passage and burst into the Round House. He was 
sitting there still — just as he had been sitting before. But 
he didn't call out to me this time; he didn't reprove me foz 
disturbing him; didn't make one single movement, utter 
one single sound. And when I went to him I knew why. 
He was dead — stone dead ! The face and throat of him 
were torn and rent as if some furious animal had mauled 
Mm, and there were curious yellow stains upon his clothes. 
That's all, Mr. Headland. I don't know what I did nor 
where I went from the moment I rushed shrieking from that 
room until I came to my senses and found myself in this 
one with dear, kind Mrs. Armroyd here bending over me and 
doing all in her power to soothe and to comfort me." 

"There, there, cherie, you shall not more distress your- 
self. It is of a hardness too great for the poor mind to 
bear," put in Mrs. Armroyd herself at this, bending over 
the sofa as she spoke and softly smoothing the girl's hair. 

It is better she should be at peace for a little, is it not, 




Very much better, madame," replied Cleek, noting how 
softly her hand fell, and how gracefully it moved over the 
soft hair and across the white forehead. ''No doubt the 
major part of what still remains to be told, you in the good- 
ness of your heart, will supply " 

"Of a certainty, monsieur, of a certainty." 


*' — But for the present," continued Cleek, finishing the 
interrupted sentence, ''there still remains a question or 
two which must be asked, and which only Miss Renfrew 
herself can answer. As those are of a private and purely 

personal nature, madame, would it be asking too much " 

He gave his shoulders an eloquent Frenchified shrug, looked 
up at her after the manner of her own countrymen, and let 
the rest of the sentence go by default. 

"Madame" looked at him and gave her Httle hands an 
airy and a graceful flirt. 

" Of a certainty, monsieur," she said, with charming grace. 
"Cela m^est egal,'^ and walked away with a step remarkably 
light and remarkably graceful for one of such weight and 
generous dimensions. 

"Miss Renfrew," said Cleek, sinking his voice and look' 
ing her straight in the eyes, as soon as Mrs. Armroyd had 
left them, "Miss Renfrew, tell me something please: Have 
you any suspicion regarding the identity or the purpose of 
the person who murdered your uncle? " 

"Not in the sfightest, Mr. Headland. Of course, in the 
beginning, my thoughts flew at once to Sir Ralph Droger, 
but I now see how absurd it is to think that such as he " 

"I am not even hinting at Sir Ralph Droger," interposed 
Cleek. "Two other people in the world have a 'motive' 
quite as strong as any that might be assigned to him. You, 
of course, feel every confidence in the honour and integrity 
of Mr. Charles Drummond?" 

"Mr. Headland!" 

"Gently, gently, please! I merely wished to know if in 
your heart you had any secret doubt; and your flaring up 
like that has answered me. You see, one has to remember 
that the late Mr. Nosworth is said to have made a will in 
your favour. The statement is correct, is it not? " 

"To the best of my behef — yes." 

" Filed it with his soHcitors, did he? " 


''That I can't say. I think not, however. He was al- 
ways sufficient unto himself, and had a rooted objection to 
trusting anything of value to the care of any man living. 
Even his most important documents — plans and formulas 
of his various inventions, even the very lease of this prop- 
erty — have always been kept in the desk in the labora- 

"Hum-m-m!" said Cleek, and pinched his chin hard. 
Then, after a moment. "One last question," he went on 
suddenly. "What do you know, Miss Renfrew, of the 
recent movements of Mr. Harry Nosworth — the son who 
was kicked out?" 

"Nothing, absolutely nothing!" she answered, with a 
look of something akin to horror. "I know what you are 
thinking of, but although he is as bad as man can be, it is 
abominable to suppose that he would Hft his hand against 
his own father." 

"Hum-m-m! Yes, of course! But still, it has been known 
to happen; and, as you say, he was a bad lot. I ran foul 

of the young gentleman once when No matter; it 

doesn't signify. So you don't know anything about him, 

"Nothing, thank God. The last I did hear, he had gone 
on the stage and taken up with some horrible creature, and 
the pair of them were subsequently sent to prison for entic- 
ing people to dreadful places and then drugging and robbing 
them. But even that I heard from an outside source; for 
my uncle never so much as mentioned him. No, I know 
nothing of him — nothing at all. In fact, I've never seen 
him since he was a boy. He never Hved here, you know; 
and until I came here, I knew next to nothing of my uncle 
himself. We were poor and Hved in a quite different town, 
my mother and I. Uncle Septimus never came to see us 
while my mother lived. He came for the first time when 
she was dead and his son had gone away : and I was so poor 


and so friendless I was glad to accept the home he offered. 
No, Mr. Headland, I know nothing of Harry Nosworth. 
I hope, for his own sake, he is dead." 

Cleek made no reply. He sat for a minute pinching his 
chin and staring at the carpet, then he got up suddenly and 
faced round in the direction of the little group at the far 
end of the room. 

^'That's all for the present," he said. *'Mr. Narkom, 
Mr. Nippers — get a Hght of some sort, please, and let's 
go out and have a look at those footprints." 


I^HE suggestion was acted upon immediately — even 
Mrs. Armroyd joining in the descent upon the port- 
able lamps and filing out with the rest into the gloom and 
loneliness of the grounds; and Miss Renfrew, finding that 
she was likely to be left alone in this house of horrors, rose 
quickly and hurried out with them. 

One step beyond the threshold brought them within sight 
of the famous Round House. Bulked against the pale silver 
of the moonlit sk}^, there it stood — a grim, unlovely thing 
of stone and steel with a trampled flower bed encircHng the 
base of it, and a man on guard — Constable Gorham. 

^Xummy! I'd clean forgot him!'' exclaimed Mr. Nip- 
pers as he caught sight of him. "And theer un be keepin' 
guard, like I told un, out here in the grounds whiles weem 
ben talkin' comfortable inside. 'E do be a chap for doin' 
as heem tole, that Gorham — indeed, yes!" 

Nobody replied to him. All were busily engaged in 
follomng the lead of Scotland Yard, as represented by 
Cleek and Superintendent Narkom, and bearing down on 
that huge stone tube within whose circular walls a dead man 
sat alone. 

"Dreary post this. Constable," said Cleek, coming 
abreast of the silent guard. 

"Yes, sir, very. But dooty's dooty — and there you be!" 
replied Gorham, touching his helmet with his finger; then, 
as the light from the lamps fell full upon Cleek's face and 
let him see that it was no face he had ever seen in this dis- 
trict before, his eyes widened with a puzzled stare which 



never quite left them even when the entire group had passed 
on and turned the curve of the Round House wall. 

And beyond that curve Cleek came to a sudden halt. 
Here, a curtainless window cut a square of light in the wall's 
dark face and struck a glare on the trunk and the boughs of a 
lime tree directly opposite, and under that window a tramp- 
led flower bed lay, with curious marks deep sunk in the 
soft, moist surface of it. 

Cleek took the lamp from Mrs. Armroyd's hand, and, 
bending, looked at them closely. Mr. Nippers had not 
exaggerated when he said that they were all of twelve 
inches in length. Nor was he far out when he declared that 
they looked like the footprints of some creature that was 
part animal and part bird; for there they were, with three 
huge clawhke projections in front and a solitary one behind, 
and so like to the mark which a gigantic bird could have 
made that one might have said such a creature had made 
them, only that it was impossible for anything to fly that 
was possessed of weight sufflcient to drive those huge 
footprints so deeply into the earth as they had been driven, 
by the mere walking of the Thing. Claws and the marks of 
scales, Mr. Nippers had asserted; and claws and the marks 
of scales the prints in the soft earth showed. 

^'La! la! the horror of them," exclaimed Mrs. Arm- 
royd, putting up her Httle hands and averting her face. ' ' It 
could kill and kill and kill — horses, oxen, anything — an 
abominable creature like that! What do you figure it to 
have been, monsieur? — souls of the saints, what?^^ 

''Blest if I know," said Cleek. "Only, of course, it 
couldn't possibly be anything human; so we may put the 
idea of the old chap having been killed by anything of his 
kind out of our minds altogether. It is perfectly clear that 
the creature, whatever it might be, got in through the win- 
dow there (you see it is open) and killed him before he 
could call out for help or strike a blow in his own defence." 


''Eh, but window's six foot up, Mr. Headland, sir," 
put in Nippers excitedly; "and howm a thing the weight o' 
that goin' to fly in?" 

"Didn't fly in, my friend," replied Cleek with an air of 
lofty superiority. "Use your wits, man. It jumped in — 
from the tree there. Look here — seel" going to it and 
tapping certain abrasions upon the trunk. "Here's where 
it peeled off the bark in climbing up. Lord, man! why, it's 
plain as the nose on your face. Ten to one we shall find 
the same sort of footprints when we go into the laboratory 
■ — damp ones, you know, from the moisture of the earth; 
and to make sure, in case we do find 'em let's take the 
length of the things and see. Got a tape m.easure with you? 
No? Oh, well, lend me your handcuffs, if you've got a 
pair with you, and we Qan manage a measurement with 
those. Thanks very much. Now, then, let's see. One, 
two, three, by Jupiter — three fingers longer than these 
things, chain and all. That'll do. Now, then, let's go 
in and see about the others. Lead the way, Miss Renfrew, 
if you will.'* 

She would, and did. Leading the way back to the cov- 
ered passage, she opened a door in the side of it — a door 
designed to let the inventor out into the grounds without 
going through the house, if he so desired — and conducted 
them to the laboratory, leaving Constable Gorham to con- 
tinue his dreary sentry duty outside. 

At any time the interior of that huge, stone-walled, steel- 
lined tube must have been unlovely and depressing to all 
but the man who laboured in it. But to-night, with that 
man sitting dead in it, with his face to the open wdndow, a 
lamp beside him, and stiff hands resting on the pages of a 
book that lay open on the desk's flat top, it was doubly so; 
for, added to its other unpleasant quahties, there was now 
a disagreeable odour and a curious, eye-smarting, throat- 
roughening heaviness in the atmosphere which was like to 


nothing so much as the fumes thrown off by burnt chemi- 

Cleek gave one or two sniffs at the air as he entered, 
glanced at Mr. Narkom, then walked straightway to the 
desk and looked into the dead man's face. Under the 
marks of the scratches and cuts upon it — marks which 
would seem to carry out the idea of an animal's attack — • 
the features were distorted and discoloured, and the hair 
of beard and moustache was curiously crinkled and dis- 

Cleek stopped dead short as he saw that face, and his 
swaggering, flippant, cocksure air of a minute before 
dropped from him like a discarded mantle. 

''Hullo! this doesn't look quite so promising for the ani- 
mal theoiy as it did!" he flung out sharply. "This man 
has been shot — shot with a shell filled with his own 
soundless and annihilating devil's invention, lithamite — 
and bomb throwing is 7tot a trick of beasts of a lower order 
than the animal tribe! Look here, Mr. Narkom — see! 
The lock of the desk has been broken. Shut the door 
there, Nippers. Let nobody leave the room. There has 
been murder and robbery here; and the thing that climbed 
that tree was not an animal nor yet a bird. It was a cut- 
throat and a thief!" 

Naturally enough, this statement produced something 
in the nature of a panic; Miss Renfrew, indeed, appearing 
to be on the verge of fainting, and it is not at all unlikely 
that she would have slipped to the floor but for the close 
proximity of Mrs. Armroyd. 

"That's right, madame. Get a chair; put her into it. 
She will need all her strength presently, I promise you. 
Wait a bit! Better have a doctor, I fancy, and an inquiry 
into the whereabouts of Mr. Charles Drummond. Mr. ' 
Narkom, cut out, will you, and wire this message to that : 
young man's employer." 


Pens and papers were on the dead man's desk. Cleek 
bent over, scratched off some hurried lines, and passed 
them to the superintendent. 

''Sharp's the word, please; we've got ugly business on 
hand and we must know about that Drummond chap with- 
out delay. Miss Renfrew has not been telling the truth to- 
night! Look at this man. Rigor mortis pronounced. 
Feel him — muscles like iron, flesh like ice ! She says that 
he spoke to her at a quarter to eight o'clock. / tell you 
that at a quarter to eight this man had been dead upward 
of an hour!" 

" Good God! " exclaimed Mr. Narkom; but his cry was cut 
into by a wilder one from Miss Renfrew. 

"Oh, no! Oh, no!" she protested, starting up from her 
seat, only to drop back into it, strengthless, shaking, ghastly 
pale. ''It could not be — it could not. I have told the 
truth — nothing but the truth. He did speak to me at a 
quarter to eight — he did, he did ! Constable Gorham was 
there — he heard him; he will tell you the same." 

"Yes, yes, I know you said so, but — will he? He looks 
a sturdy, straightgoing, honest sort of chap who couldn't be 
coaxed or bribed into backing up a lie ; so send him in as you 
go out, Mr. Narkom; we'll see what he has to say." 

What he had to say when he came in a few moments 
later was what Miss Renfrew had declared — an exact 
corroboration of her statement. He had seen a man whom 
he fancied was Sir Ralph Droger run out of the grounds, 
and he had suggested to Miss Renfrew that they had bet- 
ter look into the Round House and see if all was right with 
Mr. Nosworth. They had looked in as she had said; and 
Mr. Nosworth had called out and asked her what the devil 
she was coming in and disturbing him for, and it was a 
quarter to eight o'clock exactly. 

"Sure about that, are you?" questioned Cleek. 

"Yes, sir, sure as that I'm telhng you so this minute." 



How do you fix the exact time? " 

As we came out of the covered passage Miss Renfrew 
looked at her wrist- watch and says, impatient like, 'There, 
I've lost another two minutes and am that much later for 
nothing. See! It's a quarter to eight. Good night." 
Then she cut off over the grounds and leaves me." 

"Lsil la!" exclaimed Mrs. Armroyd approvingly. 
*' There's the brave heart, to come to mademoiselle's rescue 
so gallantly. But, yes, I make you the cake of plums for 
that, mon cher. Monsieur of the yard of Scotland, he can 
no more torture the poor stricken child after that — not he." 

But Cleek appeared to be less easy to convince that she 
had hoped, for he pursued the subject still; questioning Gor- 
ham to needless length it seemed; trying his best to trip 
him up, to shake his statement, but always failing; and, 
indeed, going over the same ground to such length that one 
might have thought he was endeavouring to gain time. 
If he was, he certainly succeeded; for it was quite fifteen 
minutes later when Mr. Narkom returned to the Round 
House, and he was at it still. Indeed, he did not conclude 
to give it up as a bad job until the superintendent came. 

''Get it off all right, did 3^ou, Mr. Narkom?" he asked, 
glancing round as he heard him enter. 

"Quite all right, old chap. Right as rain — in every 

"Thanks very much. I'm having rather a difficult task 
of it, for our friend the constable here corroborates Miss 
Renfrew's statement to the hair; and yet I am absolutely 
positive that there is a mistake." 

"There is no mistake — no, not one! The wicked one to 
say it still!" 

"Oh, that's all very well, madame, but I know what I 
know; and when you tell me that a dead man can ask ques- 
tions — Pah ! The fact of the matter is the constable 
merely fancies he heard Mr. Nosworth speak. That's 


where the mistake comes in. Now, look here! I once knew 
of an exactly similar case and I'll tell you just how it hap- 
pened. Let us suppose" — strolling leisurely forward — 
*'let us suppose that this space here is the covered passage, 
and you, madame — step here a moment, please. Thanks 
very much — and you are Miss Renfrew, and Gorham here 
is himself, and standing beside her as he did then." 

"Wasn't beside her, sir — at least not just exactly. A 
bit behind her — Hke this." 

*'0h, very well, then, that will do. Now, then. Here's 
the passage and here are you, and I'll just show you how a 
mistake could occur, and how it did occur, under precisely 
similar circumstances. Once upon a time when I was in 
Paris " 

"In Paris, monsieur? " 

"Yes, madame — this Httle thing I'm going to tell you 
about happened there. You may or may not have heard 
that a certain Frenchy dramatist wrote a play called Chan- 
ticler — or maybe you never heard of it? Didn't, eh? 
Well, it's a play where all the characters are barnyard 
creatures — dogs, poultry, birds and the hke — and the 
odd fancy of men and women dressing up like fowls took 
such a hold on the pubHc that before long there were Chan- 
ticler dances and Chanticler parties in all the houses, and 
Chan ticler ' turns' on at all the music halls, until wherever 
one went for an evening's amusement one was pretty sure 
to see somebody or another dressed up hke a cock or a hen, 
and running the thing to death. But that's another story, 
and we'll pass over it. Now, it just so happened that one 
night — when the craze for the thing was dying out and 
barnyard dresses could be bought for a song — I strolled 
into a httle fourth-rate cafe at Montmarte and there saw 
the only Chanticler dancer that I ever thought was worth 
a sou. She was a pretty, dainty httle thing — Hght as a 
feather and graceful as a fairy. Alone, I think she might 


have made her mark; but she was one of what in music- 
halldom they call 'a, team.' Her partner was a man — 
bad dancer, an indifferent singer, but a really passable ven- 

''A ventriloquist, monsieur — er — er!" 
^'Cleek, madame — name's Cleek, if you don't mind." 
''Cleek! Oh, Lummy!" blurted out Mr. Nippers. But 
neither ''madame" nor Constable Gorham said anything. 
They merely swung round and made a sudden bolt; and 
Cleek, making a bolt, too, pounced down on them like a 
leaping cat, and the sharp cHck-click of the handcuffs he 
had borrowed from Mr. Nippers told just when he linked 
their two wrists together. 

''Game's up, Madame Fifine, otherwise Madame Nos- 
worth, the v/orthless wife of a worthless husband!" he 
rapped out sharply. "Game's up, Mr. Henry Nosworth, 
bandit, pickpocket, and murderer! There's a hot corner in 
hell waiting for the brute-beast that could kill his own father, 
and would, for the simple sake of money. Get at him, 
quick, Mr. Narkom. He's got one free hand! Nip the 
paper out of his pocket before the brute destroys it ! Played, 
sir, played! Buck up. Miss Renfrew, buck up, little girl — 
you'll get your 'Boy' and you'll get Mr. Septimus Nos- 
worth 's promised fortune after all! 'God's in his heaven, 
and all's right with the world.' " 


*'"\7ES, a very, very clever scheme indeed, Miss Renfrew," 
A agreed Cleek. ^'Laid with great cunning and carried 
out with extreme carefulness — as witness the man's com- 
ing here and getting appointed constable and biding his 
time, and the woman serving as cook for six months to get 
the entree to the house and to be ready to assist when the 
time of action came round. I don't think I had the least 
inkhng of the truth until I entered this house and saw that 
woman. She had done her best to pad herseh to an un- 
wieldy size and to blanch portions of her hair, but she 
couldn't quite make her face appear old without betraying 
the fact that it was painted — and hers is one of those pe- 
culiarly pretty faces that one never forgets when one has 
ever seen it. I knew her the instant I entered the house; 
and, remembering the Chanticler dress with its fowFs-foot 
boots, I guessed at once what those marks would prove to 
be when I came to investigate them. She must have 
stamped on the ground with all her might, to sink the marks 
in so deeply — but she meant to make sure of the claws and 
the exaggerated scales on the toes lea\dng their imprint. 
I was certain we should find that dress and those boots 
among her effects; and — Mr. Narkom did. What I wrote 
on that pretended telegram was for him to slip, away into the 
house proper and search every trunk and cupboard for them. 
Pardon? No, I don't think they really had any idea of 
incriminating Sir Ralph Droger. That thought came into 
the fellow's mind when you stepped out and caught him 
stealing away after the murder had been committed. No 



^oubt he, like you, had seen Sir Ralph practising for the 
sports, and he simply made capital of it. The main idea 
was to kill his father and to destroy the -will; and of course, 
when it became apparent that the old gentleman had died 
inttestate, even a discarded son must inherit. Where he 
made his blunder, however, was in his haste to practise his 
ventriloquial accomplishment to prevent your going into 
the Round House and discovering that his father was al- 
ready dead. He ought to have waited until you had spo- 
ken, so that it would appear natural for the old man to know, 
without turning, who it was that had opened the door. 
That is what put me on the track of him. Until that mo- 
ment I hadn't the shghtest suspicion where he was nor 
under what guise he was hiding. Of course I had a vague 
suspicion, even before I came and saw her, that *the cook' 
was in it. Her readiness in inventing a fictitious gypsy 
with a bear's muzzle, coupled with what Nippers had told 
me of the animal marks she had pointed out, looked a bit 
fishy; but until I actually met her nothing really tangible 
began to take shape in my thoughts. That's all, I think. 
And now, good-night and good luck to you. Miss Renfrew. 
The riddle is solved; and Mr. Narkom and I must be getting 
back to the wilderness and to our ground-floor beds in the 
hotel of the beautiful stars!" 

Here, as if some spirit of nervous unrest had suddenly 
beset him, he turned round on his heel, motioned the super- 
intendent to follow, and brushing by the awed and staring 
Mr. Ephraim Nippers, whisked open the door and passed 
briskly out into the hush and darkness of the night. 

The footpath which led through the grounds to the gate 
and thence to the long lonely way back to Dollops and the 
caravan lay before him. He swung into it with a curious 
sort of energy and forged away from the house at such speed 
that Narkom 's short, fat legs were hard put to it to catch 
up with him before he came to the path's end. 


"My dear chap, are you going into training for a match 
with that Sir Ralph What's-his-name of whom Miss Ren- 
frew spoke? '^ he wheezed when he finally overtook him. 
"You long, lean beggars are the very old boy for covering 
the ground. But wait until you get to be my age, by 

"Perhaps I shan't. Perhaps they won't let me!" threw 
back Cleek, in a voice curiously blurred, as if he spoke with 
his teeth hard shut. "Donkeys do die, yoa know — that 
little bit of tommyrot about the absence of their dead bodies 
to the contrary." 

"Meaning what, old chap? " 

"That I've been as big an ass as any of the thistle-eating 
kind that ever walked. Gad! such an indiscretion! Such 
an example of pure brainlessness! And the worst of it is 
that it's all due to my own wretched vanity — my own 
miserable weakness for the theatrical and the spectacular I 
It came to me suddenly — while I was standing there ex- 
plaining things to Miss Renfrew — and I could have kicked 
myself for my folly." 

''Folly? What folly?" 

" 'What folly?' What? Good heavens, man, use your 
wits! Isn't it enough for me to be a blockhead without you 
entering the Usts along with me?" said Cleek, irritably. 
"Or, no! Forgive that, dear friend. My nerves were 
speaking, not my heart. But in moments Hke this — when 
we had built a safe bridge, and my own stupidity has hacked 
it down — Faugh! I tell you I could kick myself. 
Didn't you hear? Didn't you see? " 

"I saw that for some special reason you were suddenly 
obsessed with a desire to get out of the house in the midst 
of your talking with Miss Renfrew, if that's what you refer 
to— is it?" 

"Not altogether. It's part of it, however. But not the 
worst part, unfortunately. It was at that moment then the 


recollection of my indiscretion came to me and I realized 
what a dolt I had been — how completely I had destroyed 
our splendid security, wrecked what Httle still remains of 
this glorious hoKday — when I couldn't let ' George Head- 
land' have the centre of the stage, but needs must come 
in Hke the hero of a melodrama and announce myself as 
Cleek. To Nosworth and his wife! To Nippers! To all 
that gaping crowd! You remember that incident, surely? " 

''Yes. Of course I do. But what of it?" 

''What of it? Man aHve, with a chap like that Nippers, 
how long do you suppose it will remain a secret that Cleek 
is in Yorkshire? In the West Riding of it? In this par- 
ticular locahty? Travelling about with Mr. Maverick 
Narkom in a caravan — a caravan that can't cover five 
miles of country in the time a train or a motor car is able 
to get over fifty!" 

"Good lud! I never thought of that. But wait a bit. 
There's a way to overcome that difficulty, of course. Stop 
here a minute or two and I'll run back and pledge that Nip- 
pers fool to keep his mouth shut about it. He'll give me 
his promise, / know." 

"To be sure he will. But how long do you suppose he 
will keep it? How long do you suppose that an empty- 
headed, gabbhng old fool Hke that fellow will refrain from 
increasing his own importance in the neighbourhood by 
swaggering about and boasting of his intimacy with the 
powers at Scotland Yard and — the rest of it? And even 
if he shouldn't, what about the others? The gathering of 
rustics that heard what he heard? The gamekeepers from 
the Droger estate? The Nosworths, as well as they? Can 
their mouths, too, be shut? They will not love me for 
this night's business, be sure. Then, too, they have lived 
in Paris. The woman is French by birth. Of Montmartre 
— of the Apache class, the Apache kind — and she will 
know of the ' Cracksman/ be assured. So will her husband. 


And they won't take their medicine lying down, beheve me. 
An accused man has the right to communicate with coun- 
sel, remember; and a wire up to London will cost less than 
a shilling. So, as between Margot's crew and our friend 
Count Waldemar — la, la! There you are." 

Mr. Narkom screwed up his face and said something 
imder his breath. He could not but follow this Kne of rea- 
soning when the thing was put before him so plainly. 

"And we had been so free from all worry over the beggars 
up to this!" he said, savagely. ''But to get a hint — to 
pick up the scent — out here — in a wild bit of country like 
this! Cinnamon, it makes me sweat! What do you pro- 
pose to do?" 

"The only thing that's left us to do," gave back Cleek. 
" Get out of it as quickly as possible and draw a red herring 
over the scent. In other words, put back to Dollops, aban- 
don the caravan, make our way to some place where it is 
possible to telephone for the chap we hired it from to send 
out and get it; then, to make tracks for home." 

" Yes, but why bother about telephoning, old chap? Why 
can't we drop in ourselves and tell the man when we get 
back to Sheffield on our way to London?" 

"Because we are not going back to Sheffield, my friend — 
not going in for anything so silly as twice travelKng over 
the same ground, if it's all the same to you," replied Cleek, 
as he swung off from the highway on to the dark, still moor 
and struck out for the place where they had left Dollops 
and the caravan. ''At best, we can't be more than thirty 
miles from the boundary hne of Cumberland. A night's 
walking will cover that. There we can rest a while — ■ 
at some little out-of-the-way hostelry — then take a train 
over the Scottish border and make for Dumfries. From 
that point on, the game is easy. There are six trains a 
day lea\^ng for St. Pancras and eight for Euston. We can 
choose which we like, and a seven hours' ride will land us L» 


London without having once doubled on our tracks' or 
crossed the route by which we came out of it." 

"By James! what a ripping idea," said Mr. Narkom ap- 
provingly. "Come along then, old chap — let's get back 
to the boy and be about it as soon as possible." Then he 
threw open his coat and waistcoat to get the full benefit of 
the air before facing the ordeal, and, faihng into step with 
Cleek, struck out over the moor at so brisk a dog trot that 
his short, fat legs seemed fairly to twinkle. 


BY THE side of the little chattering stream that flowed 
through the bit of woodland where Mr. Nippers and 
his associates had come upon them, they found Dollops, 
with his legs drawn up, his arms folded across his knees and 
his forehead resting upon them, sleeping serenely over the 
embers of a burnt-out fire. He was still "making music," 
but of a kind which needed no assistance from a mouth 
harmonica to produce it. 

They awoke him and told him of the sudden change in 
the programme and of the need for haste in carrying it out. 

*'0h, so help me! Them Apaches, eh? And that foreign 
josser. Count What's-his-name, too?" said he, rubbing his 
eyes and blinking sleepily. ''Right you are, guv'ner! 
Gimme two seconds to get the cobwebs out of my thinking- 
box and I'm ready to face mardiing orders as soon as you 
like. My hat! though, but this is a startler. I can under- 
stand wot them Apache johnnies has got against you, sir, 
of course; but wot that Maura vanian biscuit is getting after 
you for beats me. Wot did you ever do to the blighter, 
guv'ner? Trip him up in some little bit of crooked busi- 
ness, sir, and Mid him down,' as the 'Mericans say?" 

"Something Hke that," returned Cleek. "Don't waste 
time in talking. Simply get together such things as we 
shall need and let us be off about our business as soon as 

Dollops obeyed instructions upon both points — obeyed 
them, indeed, with such alacrity that he shut up Hke an 
oyster forthwith, dived into the caravan and bounced out 



. f . . 

again, and witliin five minutes of the time he had been told 

of the necessity for starting, had started, and was forging 
away with the others over the dark, still moor and facing 
cheerily the prospect of a thirty-mile walk to Cumberland- 

All through the night they pressed onward thus — the 
two men walking shoulder to shoulder and the boy at their 
heels — over vast stretches of moorland where bracken and 
grass hmig heavy and glittering imder their weight of dew; 
down the craggy sides of steep guUies where the spring 
freshets had quickened mere trickles into noisy water- 
splashes that spewed over the rocks, to fall into chuckHng, 
froth-filled p>ools below; along twisting paths; through the 
dark, still woodland stretches, and thence out upon the v/ild, 
wet moor again, with the wind in their faces and the sky all 
a-prickle with steadily dimming stars. And by and by the 
mist-wrapped moon dropp>ed down out of sight, the worn- 
out night dwindled and died, and steadily brightening Glory 
went blushing up the east to flower the pathway for the 
footfalls of the Morning. 

But as yet the farthermost outposts of Cumberland were 
miles beyond the range of vision, so that the long tramp 
was by no means ended, and, feeling the necessity for cover- 
ing as much ground as possible while the world at large was 
still in what Dollops was wont to allude to as '^ the arms of 
Murphy's house,'' the little party continued to press on- 
ward persistently. 

By four o'clock they were again off the moors and in the 
depths of craggy gorges; by five they were on the borders of 
a deep, still tarn, and had called a halt to fight a fire and get 
things out of the bag which Dollops carried — things to eat 
and to drink and to wear — and were enjoying a plunge in 
the ice-cold water the while the coffee was boifing; and by 
six — gorged with food and soothed by tobacco — they 
were lying sprawled out on the fragrant earth and bfinking 


drc .vsily while their boots were drying before the fire. And 
.after that there was a long hiatus until Cleek's voice rapped 
out saying sharply, ''Well, I'll be dashed! Rouse up there, 
you lazy beggars. Do you know that it's half-past twelve 
and w^e've been sleeping for hours?" 

They knew it then, be assured, and were up and on their 
way again with as Httle delay as possible. Rested and re- 
freshed, they made such good time that two o'clock found 
them in the Morcam Abbey district, just over the borders 
of Cumberland, and, with appetites sharpened for luncheon, 
bearing down on a quaint little hostlery whose signboard 
announced it as the Rose and Thistle. 

''Well, there's hospitaHty if you like," said Cleek, as, at 
their approach, a cheery-faced landlady bobbed up at an 
open window and, seeing them, bobbed away again and ran 
round to welcome them with smiles and curtseys dehvered 
from the arch of a vine-bowered door. 

"Welcome, gentlemen, welcome," beamed she as they 
came up and joined her. "But however in the world did 
you manage to get over here so soon? — the train not being 
due at Shepperton Old Cross until five-and-twenty past one, 
and that a good mile and a quarter away as the crow flies. 
However, better too early than too late — Major Norcross 
and Lady Mary being already here and most anxious to 
meet you." 

As it happened that neither Cleek nor Mr. Narkom had 
any personal acquaintance with the lady and gentleman 
mentioned, it was so clearly a case of mistaken identity 
that the superintendent had it on the tip of his tongue to 
announce the fact, when there clashed out the sound of a 
door opening and shutting rapidly, a clatter of hasty foot- 
steps along the passage, and presently there came into \iew 
the figure of a bluff, hearty, florid-faced man of about five- 
and-f orty, who thrust the landlady aside and threw a meta- 
phorical bombshell by exclaiming excitedly: 


*'My dear sir, I never was so deKghted. Talk about 
English slowness. Why, this is prompt enough to satisfy 
a Yankee. I never dispatched my letter to you until late 
yesterday afternoon, Mr. Narkom, and — by the way, 
which is Mr. Narkom, and which that amazing Mr. Cleek? 
Or, never mind — perhaps that clever Johnnie will be com- 
ing later; you can tell me all about that afterward. For 
the present, come along. Let's not keep Lady Mary wait- 
ing — she's anxious. This way, please." 

Here — as Mr. Narkom had lost no time in acknowledg- 
ing his identity, it being clear that no mistake had been made 
after all — here he caught the superintendent by the arm, 
whisked him down the passage, and throwing open the door 
at the end of it, announced excitedly, ^'AU right, Mary. The 
Yard's answered — the big reward's caught 'em, as I knew 
it would — and here's Narkom. That chap Cleek will 
come by a later train, no doubt." 

The response to this came from an unexpected quarter. 
Of a sudden the man he had left standing at the outer door, 
under the impression that he was in no way connected with 
the superintendent, but merely a gentleman who had reached 
the inn at the same time, came down the passage to the 
open door, brushed past him into the room, and announced 
gravely, ''Permit me to correct an error, please. Major. 
The 'man Cleek' is not coming later — he is here, and very 
much at your and Lady Mary Norcross' service, believe 
me. I have long known the name of Major Seton Norcross 
as one which stands high in the racing world — as that, 
indeed, of the gentleman who owns the finest stud in the 
kingdom and whose filly. Highland Lassie, is first favourite 
for the forthcoming Derby — and I now have the honour 
of meeting the gentleman himself, it seems." 

The effect of this was somewhat disconcerting. For, as 
he concluded it, he put out his hand and rested it upon Mr.. 
Narkom's shoulder, whereat Lady Mary half rose from her 


seat, only to sit down again suddenly and look round at 
her liege lord with uplifted eyebrows and lips slightly parted. 
Afterward she declared of the two men standing side by side 
in that familiar manner: ''One reminded me of an actor 
trying to play the part of a person of distinction, and the 
other of a person of distinction trying to play the part of an 
ordinary actor and not quite able to keep what he really 
was from showing through the veneer of what he was trying 
to be/' 

The major, however, was too blunt to bottle up his senti- 
ments at any time, and being completely bowled over in the 
present instance put them into bluff, outspoken, character- 
istic words. 

''Oh, gum games!" he blurted out. "If you really are 
Cleek " 

"I really am. Mr. Narkom will stand sponsor for that." 

"But, good lud, man! Oh, look here, you know, this is 
all tommyrot! What under God's heaven has brought a 
chap hke you down to this sort of thing? " 

"Opinions differ upon that score. Major," said Cleek 
quietly. " So far from being 'brought down,' it is my good 
friend, Mr. Narkom here, who has brought me up to it — 
and made me his debtor for life." 

"Debtor nothing! Don't talk rubbish. As if it were 
possible for a gentleman not to recognize a gentleman!" 

"It would not be so easy, I fear, if he were a good actor — 
and you have just done me the compliment of indirectly 
telling me that I must be one. It is very nice of you but — • 
may we not let it go at that? I fancy from what I hear 
that I, too, shall soon be in the position to pay compliments, 
Major. I hear on every side that Highland Lassie is sure 
to carry off the Derby — in fact that, unless a miracle oc- 
curs, there'll be no horse 'in it' but her." 

Here both the major and his wife grew \'isibly excited. 

" Gad, sir ! " exclaimed he, in a voice of deep despair. "I'm 


afraid you will have to amend that statement so that it may 
read, 'unless a miracle occurs there will be every horse in it 
but her' — every blessed one from Dawson-Blake's Tar- 
antula, the second favourite, down to the last 'also ran' of 
the lot." 

''Good heavens! The filly hasn't 'gone wrong' sud- 
denly, has she?" 

"She's done more than 'gone wrong' — she's gone alto- 
gether! Some beastly, low-lived cur of a horse thief broke 
into the stables the night before last and stole her — stole 
her, sir, body and bones — and there's not so much as a 
hoof print to tell what became of her." 

"Well, I'm blest!" 

"Are you? B'gad, then, you're about the only one who 
knows about it that is! For as if that wasn't bad enough, 
I've not only lost the best filly in England but the best 
trainer as well: and the brute that carried off the one got 
at the other at the same time, dash him!" 

"What do you mean by ' got at ' the trainer, Major? Did 
the man take a bribe and 'sell' you that way? " 

"What, Tom Farrow? Never in God's world! Not that 
kind of a chap, by George! The man that offered Tom 
Farrow a bribe would spend the rest of the week in bed — ■ 
gad, yes! A more faithful chap never drew the breath of 
life. God only knows when or how the thing happened, 
but Farrow was found on the moor yesterday morning — 
quite unconscious and at death's door. He had been blud- 
geoned in the most brutal manner imaginable. Not only 
was his right arm broken, but his skull was all but crushed 
in. There was concussion of the brain, of course. Poor 
fellow, he can't speak a word, and the chances are that he 
never will be able to do so again." 

"Bad business, that," declared Cleek, looking grave. 
"Any idea of who may possibly have been the assailant? 
Local police picked up anything in the nature of a clue? " 


"The local police know nothing whatsoever about it. I 
have not reported the case to them." 

"Not reported H'm! rather unusual course, that, 

to pursue, isn't it? When a man has his place broken into, 
a valuable horse stolen, and his trainer all but murdered, 
one would naturally suppose that his first act would be to 
set the machinery of the law in motion without an instant's 
delay. That is, unless H'm! Yes! Just so." 

"What is 'just so'?" inquired the major eagerly. "You 
seem to have hit upon some sort of an idea right at the start. 
Mind telling me what it is? " 

" Certainly not. I could imagine that when a man keeps 
silent about such a thing at such a time there is a possibiUty 
that he has a faint idea of who the criminal may be and that 
he has excellent reasons for not wishing the world at large 
to share that idea. In other words, that he would sooner 
lose the value of the animal fifty times over than have the 
crime brought home to the person he suspects." 


LADY MARY made a faint moaning sound. The 
major's face was a study. 

*^I don't know whether you are a wizard or not, Mr. 
Cleek," he said, after a moment; ''but you have certainly 
hit upon the facts of the matter. It is for that very reason 
that I have refrained from making the affair pubHc. It 
is bad enough that Lady Mary and I should have our 
suspicions regarding the identity of the — er — person 
implicated without letting others share them. There's 
Dawson-Blake for one. If he knew, he'd move heaven and 
earth to ruin him." 

"Dawson-Blake?" repeated Cleek, "Pardon, but will 
that be the particular Sir Gregory Dawson-Blake the mil- 
lionaire brewer who achieved a knighthood in the last 
* Honours List' and whose horse, Tarantula, is second fav- 
ourite for the coming Derby?" 

"Yes, the very man. He is almost what you might call a 
neighbour of ours, Mr. Cleek. His place. Castle Claver- 
dale, is just over the border line of Northumberland and 
about live miles distant from Morcan Abbey. His stables 
are, if anything, superior to my own; and we both use the 
intervening moorland as a training ground. Also, it was 
Dawson-Blake's daughter that Lieutenant Chadwick played 
fast and loose with. Jilted her, you know — threw her 
over at the eleventh hour and married a chorus girl who 
had nothing to bless herself with but a pretty face and a long 
line of lodging-house ancestry. • Not that Miss Dawson- 
Blake lost anything by getting rid of such a man before 



she committed the folly of tying herself to him for life, but 
her father never forgave Lieutenant Chadwick and would 
spend a milHon for the satisfaction of putting him behind 

^'I see. And this Lieutenant Chadwick is — whom may 
I ask?" 

''The only son of my elder and only sister, Mr. Cleek,'* 
supplied Lady Mary with a faint blush. "She committed 
the folly of marrying her music master when I was but a Httle 
girl, and my father died without ever looking at her again. 
Subsequently, her husband deserted her and went — she 
never learnt where, to the day of her death. While she 
lived, however, both my brother, Lord Chevelmere, and I 
saw that she never wanted for anything. We also suppHed 
the means to put her son through Sandhurst after we had 
put him through college, and hoped that he would repay us 
by achieving honour and distinction. It was a vain hope. 
He achieved nothing but disgrace. Shortly after his de- 
plorable marriage with the theatrical person for whom he 
threw over Miss Dawson-Blake — and who in turn threw 
him over when she discovered what a useless ei^cumbrance 
he was — he was cashiered from the army, and has ever 
since been a hanger-on at race meetings — the consort of 
touts, billiard markers, card sharpers, and people of that 
sort. I had not seen him for six years, when he turned up 
suddenly in this neighbourhood three days ago and en- 
deavoured to scrape acquaintance with one of the Abbey 

"And under an assumed name, Mr. Cleek," supple- 
mented the major somewhat excitedly. "He was calling 
himself John Clark and was trying to wheedle information 
regarding Highland Lassie out of my stable-boys. For- 
tunately, Lady Mary caught sight of him without being 
seen, and at once gave orders that he was to be turned off 
the premises, and never allowed to come near them again. 


He was known, however, to be in this neighbourhood up to 
dusk on the following evening, but he has never been seen 
since Highland Lassie disappeared. You know now, per- 
haps, why I have etected to conduct everything connected 
with this affair with the utmost secrecy. Little as we desire 
to be in any way associated with such a man, we cannot but 
remember that he is connected with us by ties of blood, and 
unless Farrow dies of his injuries — which God forbid! we 
will hush the thing up, cost what it may. All that I want 
is to get the animal back — not to punish the man: if, in- 
deed, he be the guilty party; for there is really no actual 
proof of that. But if Dawson-Blake knew, it would be 
different. He would move heaven and earth to get the 
convict's 'broad arrow' on him and to bring disgrace upon 
everybody connected with the man." 

"H'm, I seel" said Cleek, puckering up his brows and 
thoughtfully stroking his chin. *'So that, naturally, there 
is — with this added to the rivalry of the two horses — no 
very good blood existing between Sir Gregory Dawson- 
Blake and yourself? " 

*'No, there is not. If, apart from these things, Mr. 
Cleek, you want my private opinion of the man, it can be 
summed up in the word 'Bounder.' There is not one in- 
stinct of the gentleman about him. He is simply a vulgar, 
money-gilded, low-minded cad, and I wouldn't put it 
beyond him to be mixed up in this disappearance of the filly 
himself but that I know Chadwick was about the place ; and 
for there to be anything between Chadwick ai^d him is as 
impossible as it is for the two poles to come together, or for 
oil to assimilate with water. That is the one thing in this 
world that Dawson-Blake would not do under any circum- 
stances whatsoever. Beyond that, I put nothing beneath 
the man — nothing too despicable for him to attempt in the 
effort to gain his own end and aim. He races not for the 
sport of the thing, but for the pubKcity, the glory of 


getting talked about, and of making the vulgar stare. Hft 
wants the blue ribbon of the turf for the simple fame of 
the thing; and he'd buy it if buymg it were possible, and 
either bribes or trickery could carry off the race." 

*'H'm! That's a sweeping assertion, Major." 

"But made upon a basis of absolute fact, Mr. Cleek. 
He has twice endeavoured to buy Farrow to desert me by 
an offer of double wages and a pension; and, failing that, 
only last week he offered my jockey £10,000 cash on the nail 
to shp off over to France on the night before Derby Day, 
and promised him a furtlier five thousand if Tarantula 
carried off the race." 

''Oho!" said Cleek, in two different tones; and with a 
look of supremest contempt. ''So our Tinplate Knight is 
that sort of a sportsman, is he, the cad? And having failed 

to get hold of the rider H'm! Yes. It is possible 

— perhaps. Chadwick's turning up at such a time might 
be a mere coincidence — a mere tout's trick to get inside 

information beforehand, or Well, you never can tell. 

Suppose, Major, you give me the facts from the beginning. 
When was the animal's loss discovered — and how? Let 
me have the full particulars, please." 

The major sighed and. dropped hea\dly into a chair. 

"For an affair of such far-reaching consequences, Mr. 
Cleek," he said gloomily, "it is singularly bald of what 
might be called details, I am afraid; and beyond what 1 
have already told you there is really very little more to tell. 
When or how the deed was committed, it is impossible to 
decide beyond the indefinite statement that it happened 
the night before last, at some time after half -past nine in the 
evening, when the stable-boy, DewHsh, before going home, 
carried a pail of water at Farrow's request into the building 
where Highland Lassie's stall is located, and five o'clock 
the next morning when Captain MacTavish strolled into the 
stables and found the mare missing." 


"A moment, please. Who is Captain MacTavish? And 
why should the gentleman be strolling about the Abbey 
stable-yard at five o'clock in the morning?" 

^'Both questions can be answered in a few words. Cap- 
tain MacTavish is a friend who is stopping with us. He is 
a somewhat famous naturalist. Writes articles and stories 
on bird and animal fife for the magazines. It is his habit 
to be up and out hunting for 'specimens' and things of that 
sort every morning just about dawn. At five he always 
crosses the stable yard on his way to the dairy where he 
goes for a glass of fresh milk before breakfast." 

*'I see. Captain a young man or an old one? " 

''Oh, young, of course. About two or three and thirty, 
I should say. Brother of a deceased army pal of mine. 
Been stopping with us for the past two months. Very 
brilliant and very handsome chap — universal favourite 
wherever he goes." 

"Thanks. Now just one more question before you pro- 
ceed, please : About the trainer Farrow getting the stable- 
boy to carry in that pail of water. Would not that be a 
trifle unusual at such a time of the night?" 

"I don't know. Yes — perhaps it would. I never 
looked at it in that light before." 

"Very likely not. Stables would be closed and all the 
grooms, et cetera, off duty for the night at that hour, would 
they not?" 

"Yes. That is, unless Farrow had reason for asking one 
of them to help him with something. That's what he did, 
by the way, with the boy, Dewlish." 

"Just so. Any idea what he wanted with that pail of 
water at that hour of the night? He couldn't be going to 
'water' one of the horses, of course, and it is hardly Hkely 
that he intended to take on a stableman's duties and wash 
up the place." 

"Oh, gravy — no! He's a trainer, not a slosh-bucket. 


I pay him eighteen hundred a year and give him a cottage 

''Married man or a single one?" 

'' Single. A widower. About forty. Lost his wife two 
years ago. Rather thought he was going to take another 
one shortly, from the way things looked. But of late he 
and Maggie McFarland don't seem, for some reason or 
another, to be hitting it off together so well as they did." 

"Who's Maggie McFarland, please?" 

''One of the dairymaids. A Httle Scotch girl from Nairn 
who came into service at the Abbey about a twelvemonth 

"H'm! I see. Then the fiUy isn't the only 'Highland 
Lassie' in the case, it would seem. Pardon? Oh, nothing. 
Merely a weak attempt to say something smart, that's all. 
Don't suppose that Maggie McFarland could by any pos- 
sibility throw light upon the subject of that pail of water, do 
you. Major?" 

"Good lud, no! Of course she couldn't. What utter 
rot. But see here — come to think of it now, perhaps / 
can. It's as like as not that he wanted it to wash himself 
with before he went over to the shoer's at Shepperton Old 
Cross with Chocolate Maid. I forgot to tell you, Mr. 
Cleek, that ever since Dawson-Blake made that attempt to 
buy him off, Farrow became convinced that it wouldn't be 
safe to leave Highland Lassie unguarded night or day for 
fear of that cad's hirelings getting at her in some way or 
another, so he closed up his cottage and came to Uve in the 
rooms over the filly's stable, so as to be on the spot for 
whatever might or might not happen at any hour. He 
also bought a yapping httle Scotch terrier that would bark 
if a match fell, and kept it chained up in the place with him. 
When the discovery of the filly's disappearance was made 
that dog was found still attached to its chain, but as dead 
as Maria Martin. It had been poisoned. There was a bit 


of meat lying beside the body and it was literally smothered 
in strychnine." 

*' Quite so. Keep strychnine about the place for killing 
rats, I suppose?" 

*' Yes, of course. They are a perfect pest about the gran- 
ary and the fodder bins. But of course it wouldn't be lying 
round loose — a deadly thing Hke that. Besides, there 
never was any kept in that particular section of the stables, 
so the dog couldn't have got hold of it by accident. Then 
there's another thing I ought to tell you, Mr. Cleek: 
Highland Lassie never was stabled with the rest of the stud. 
We have always kept her in one especial stable. There are 
just two whacking big box stalls in the place. She occupies 
one and Chocolate Maid the other. Chocolate Maid is 
Lady Mary's personal property — a fine, blooded filly that 
will make a name for herself one of these days, I fancy. 
Dark-coated and smooth as a piece of sealskin, the beauty. 
To-day she is the only animal in that unlucky place. Yes, 
come to tiiink of it, Mr. Cleek," he added with a sort of 
sigh, '' that is probably what the poor fellow wanted the pail 
of water for: to wash up and ride her over to the forge at 
Shepperton Old Cross." 

"Singular time to choose for such a proceeding, wasn't 
it, Major? After half-past nine o'clock at night." 

"It would be if it were any other man and under any 
other circumstances. But remember! It is but three weeks 
to Derby Day and every hour of daylight is worth so much 
gold to us. Farrow knew that he could not spare a mo- 
ment of it for any purpose; and he is most particular 
over the shoeing. Will see it done himself and direct the 
operation personally. Sort of mania v/ith him. Wouldn't 
let the best man that ever Uved take one of the horses over 
for him. Go himself, no matter what inconvenience it put 
him to. Farrier at Shepperton Old Cross knows his httle 
*fads and fancies' and humours them at all times. Would 


open the forge and fire up for him if it were two o'clock in 
the morning.'^ 

*'I see. And did he take Chocolate Maid over there on 
that night, after all?" 

*'Yes. Lady Mary and I attended a whist drive at 
Farmingdale Priory that evening; but her ladyship was 
taken with a violent headache and we had to excuse our- 
selves and leave early. It would be about a quarter to 
eleven o'clock when we returned to the Abbey and met 
Farrow riding out through the gates on Chocolate Maid. 
We stopped and spoke to him. He was then going over to 
the shoer's with the mare." 

"How long would it take him to make the journey?" 

"Oh, about five-and-twenty minutes — maybe half an 
hour: certainly not more." 

"So then it would be about quarter-past eleven when he 
arrived at the farrier's? I see. Any idea at what time he 
got back?" 

"Not the ghost of one. In fact, we should never have 
known that he ever did get back — for nobody heard a 
sound of his return the whole night long — were it not that 
when Captain MacTavish crossed the stableyard at five 
o'clock in the morning and, seeing the door ajar, looked in, 
he found Chocolate Maid standing in her stall, the dog dead, 
and Highland Lassie gone. Of course. Chocolate Maid being 
there after we had passed Farrow on the road with her was 
proof that he did return at some hour of the night, you know: 
though when it was, or why he should have gone out again, 
heaven alone knows. Personally, you know, I am of the 
opinion that Highland Lassie was stolen while he was 
absent; that, on returning he discovered the robbery and, 
following the trail, went out after the robbers, and, coming 
up with them, got his terrible injuries that way.'^ 

"H'm! Yes! I don't think! What 'trail' was he to 
find, please, when you just now told me that there wasn't so 


much as a hoof print to tell the tale? Or was that an 

*'No, it wasn't. The entire stableyard is paved with red 
tiles, and we've had such an uncommon spell of dry weather 
lately that the earth of the surrounding country is baked 
as hard as a brickbat. An elephant couldn't make a foot- 
mark upon it, much less a horse. But, gravy, man! instead 
of making the thing clearer, I'm blest if you're not adding 
gloom to darkness, and rendering it more mysterious than 
ever. What under the four corners of heaven could Farrow 
have followed, then, if the Hrail' is to be eliminated en- 

** Maybe his own incHnation, Major — maybe nothing at 
all," said Cleek, enigmatically. ^'If your little theory of 
his returning and finding Highland Lassie stolen were a 
thing that would hold water I am inclined to think that 
Mr. Tom Farrow would have raised an alarm that you could 
hear for half a mile, and that if he had started out after the 
robbers he would have done so with a goodly force of fol- 
lowers at his heels and with all the lanterns and torches that 
could be raked and scraped together." 

^'Good lud, yes! of course he would. I never thought 
of that. Did you, Mary? His whole heart and soul were 
bound up in the animal. If he had thought that anything 
had happened to her, if he had known that she was gone, a 
pitf ul of raging devils would have been spirits of meekness 
beside him. Man alive, you make my head whiz. For 
him to go off over the moor without word or cry at such a 

time I say, Mr. Cleek! For God's sake, what do 

you make of such a thing as that at such a time, eh? " 

^'Well, Major," repHed Cleek, **I hate to destroy any 
man's illusions and to besmirch any man's reputation, but 
— que voulez vous? If Mr. Tom Farrow went out upon that 
moor after the mare was stolen, and went without giving an 
alarm or saying a word to anybody, then in my private 


opinion your precious trainer is nothing in the world but a 
precious double-faced, double-dealing, dishonourable black- 
guard, who treacherously sold you to the enemy and got 
just what he deserved by way of payment." 

Major Norcross made no reply. He simply screwed up 
his Ups until they were a mere pucker of Uttle creases, and 
looked round at his wife with something of the pain and 
hopeless bewilderment of an unjustly scolded child. 

"You know, Seton, it was what Captain MacTavish sug- 
gested," ventured she, gently and regretfully. "And when 

two men of intellect " Then she sighed and let the rest 

go by default. 

"Demmit, Mary, you don't mean to suggest that I 
haven't any, do you?" 

"No, dear; but " 

"Buts be blowed! Don't you think I know a man when 
I run foul of him? And if ever there was a square-deaHng, 

honest chap on this earth Look here, Mr. Cleek. 

Gad! you may be a bright chap and all that, but you'll 
have to give me something a blessed sight stronger than 
mere suspicion before you can make me believe a thing Uke 
that about Tom Farrow." 

"I am not endeavouring to make you beHeve it. Major. 
I am merely showing you what would certainly be the 
absolute truth of the matter if Tom Farrow had done what 
you suggested, and gone out on that moor alone and with- 
out a word or a cry when he discovered that the animal was 
stolen. But, my dear sir, I incHne to the belief that he 
never did go out there after any person or any living thing 

"Then, dash it, sir, how in thunder are you going to ex- 
plain his being there at all?" 

"By the simple process. Major, of suggesting that he 
was on his way back to the Abbey at the time he encoun- 
tered his unknown assailant. In other words, that he had 


not only never returned to the place after you and her 
ladyship saw him leaving it at a quarter to eleven, but was 
never permitted to do so." 

''Oh, come, I say! That's laying it on too thick. How 
the dickens can you be sure of such a thing as that? " 

''I'm not. I am merely laying before you the only two 
things possible to explain his presence there. One or the 
other of them is the plain and absolute truth. If the man 
went out there after the filly was stolen he is a scoundrel 
and a liar. If he is innocent, he met with his injuries on 
the way back to his quarters above Highland Lassie's 

"But the other animal? But Chocolate Maid? How 
could she have got back to the stable, then? She couldn't 
have found her way back alone after Farrow was assaulted 
— at least, she could, of course, but not in the condition she 
was in when found next morning. She had no harness of 
any sort upon her. Her saddle was on its peg. She was 
in her box — tied up, b'gad! and the door of the box was 

closed and bolted; so that if by any chance Hullo! 

I say! What on earth are you smihng in that queer way 
for? Hang it, man! do you believe that I don't know what 
I'm talking about?" 

"Oh, yes, Major. It isn't that kind of a smile. I have 
just discovered that four and four make eight when you 
add them up properly; and the smile is one of consequent 
satisfaction. A last question, please. At what time in the 
morning was Farrow found lying unconscious upon the 
moor? " 

' ' Somewhere between six and seven o'clock. Why? ' ' 

"Oh, nothing in particular. Who found him? Captain 

"No. Maggie McFarland. She was just coming back 

from milking when Hang it, man ! I wish you 

wouldn't smile all up one side of your face in that con- 


founded manner. It makes me think that you must have 
something up your sleeve." 

"Well, if I have, Major, suppose you drive me over to the 
stables and give me a chance to take it out?" suggested 
Cleek, serenely. "A little 'poking about' sometimes does 
wonders, and a half hour in Highland Lassie's quarters may 
pick the puzzle to pieces a great deal sooner than you'd 
beheve. Or, stop! Perhaps, on second thought, it will be 
better for you and her ladyship to go on ahead, as I shall 
want to have a look at Tom Farrow's injuries as well, so 
it will be best to have every- thing prepared in advance, in 
order to save time. No doubt Mr. Narkom and I can get a 
conveyance of some sort here. At any rate — h'm ! it is 
now a quarter to three, I see — at any rate, you may cer- 
tainly expect us at quarter-past five. You and her lady- 
ship may go back quite openly, Major. There will be no 
need to attempt to throw dust in Sir Gregory Dawson- 
Blake's eyes any longer by keeping the disappearance of the 
animal a secret. If he's had a hand in her spiriting away, 
he knows, of course, that she's gone; but if he hasn't — oh, 
well, I fancy I know who did, and that she will be in the 
running on Derby Day after all. A few minutes in High- 
land Lassie's stable will settle that, I feel sure. Your 
ladyship, my comphments. Major, good afternoon. I hope 
if night overtakes us before we get at the bottom of the 
thing you can manage to put us up at the Abbey imtil to- 
morrow that we may be on the spot to the last? " 

"With pleasure, Mr. Cleek," said Lady Mary; and bowed 
him out of the room. 


IT WAS precisely ten minutes past five o'clock and the 
long-lingering May twilight was but just beginning to 
gather when the spring cart of the Rose and Thistle arrived 
at the Abbey stables, and Cleek and Mr. Narkora descend- 
ing therefrom found themselves the centre of an interested 
group composed of the major and Lady Mary, the country- 
side doctor, and Captain MacTavish. 

The captain, who had nothing Scottish about him but his 
name, was a smiling, debonnaire gentleman with flaxen 
hair and a curling, fair moustache; and Cleek, catching sight 
of him as he stood leaning, in a carefully studied pose, 
against the stable door-post with one foot crossed over the 
other, one hand in his trousers pocket and the other swing- 
ing a hunting crop whose crook was a greyhound's head 
wrought in solid silver, concluded that here was, perhaps, 
the handsomest man of his day, and that, in certain sec- 
tions of society, he might be guaranteed to break hearts by 
the hundred. It must be said of him, however, that he car- 
ried his manifold charms of person with smooth serenity 
and perfect poise; that, if he realized his own beauty, he 
gave no outward evidences of it. He was calm, serene 
well-bred, and had nothing of the ^'Doll" or the ''Johnny" 
element in either his bearing or his deportment. He was 
at once splendidly composed and almost insolently bland. 

''Pleased to meet you, Mr. Cleek. Read a great deal 
about you one way and another," he said, when the major 
made the introduction — a performance which the captain 
evidently considered superfluous as between an army officer 



and a police detective. ''Sorry I shan't be able to remain 
and study your interesting methods, however. Should 
have been rather pleased to do so, otherwise." 

"And I for my part should have been pleased to have you 
do so, Captain, I assure you," replied Cleek, the first intona- 
tion of his voice causing the captain to twitch up his head 
and stare at him as if he were a monstrosity. "Shall you 
be leaving us, then, before the investigation is concluded?" 

"Well, I'm blest! Why, how in the world — oh — er — • 
yes. Obliged to go. Wire from London this afternoon. 
Regiment sails for India in two days. Beastly nuisance. 
Shall miss the Derby and all that. By the way, Norcross, 
if this chap succeeds in finding the filly in time for the race, 
that little bet of ours stands, of course? " 

"Of course," agreed the major. "Ready are you, Mr. 
Cleek? Right you are — come along." And he forthwith 
led the way into the stable where Chocolate Maid, like a 
perfect horse in French bronze, stood munching hay in her 
box as contentedly as if there wxre no such things in the 
world as touts and swindlers and horse thieves, and her com- 
panion of two days ago still shared the quarters with her. 

"Gad! but she's a beauty and no mistake. Major," said 
Cleek as he went over and, leaning across the low barrier 
of the enclosure, patted the mare's shoulder and smoothed 
her glossy neck. "I don't wonder that you and her lady- 
ship have such high hopes for her future. The creature 
seems well-nigh perfect." 

"Yes, she is a pretty good bit of horseflesh," replied he, 
"but not to be compared with Highland Lassie in speed, 
wind, or anything. There she is, Mr. Cleek; and it's as 
natural as life, the beauty!" 

Speaking, he waved his hand toward a framed picture of 
the missing animal — a coloured gift plate which had been 
given away with the Easter number of The Horseman, and 
which Farrow had had glazed and hung just over her box. 


Cleek, following the direction of the indicating hand, looked 
up and saw the counterfeit presentment of a splendidly pro- 
portioned sorrel with a splash of white on the flank and a 
white ''stocking" on the left forefoot. 

''A beauty, as you say, Major," agreed he, ^'but do you 
know that I, for my part, prefer the charms of Chocolate 
Maid? May be bad judgment upon my part but — there 
you are. What a coat! What a colour! What splendid 
legs, the beauty! Mind if I step in for a moment and have 
a look at her?" 

The major did not, so he went in forthwith and proceeded 
to look over the animal's points — feeling her legs, stroking 
her flanks, examining her hoofs. And it was then and then 
only that the major remembered about the visit to the far- 
rier's over at Shepperton Old Cross and began to understand 
that it was not all simple admiration of the animal, this 
close examination of her. 

"Oh, by Jove! I say!" he blurted out as he made — with 
Cleek — a sudden discovery; his face going first red and 
then very pale under the emotions thus engendered. "She 
hasnH any new shoes on, has she? So she can't have been 
taken to the farrier's after all." 

"No," said Cleek, "she can't. I half suspected that she 
hadn't, so — well, let it go. Let's have a look round High- 
land Lassie's box, please. H'm! Yes! Very nice; very 
splendid — everything of the best and all in apple pie order. 
By the way, Major, you surely don't allow harness to be 
washed and oiled in here? " 

" Certainly not! What in the world could have put such 
an idea into your head?" 

"Merely that bit of rag and that dirty sponge tucked in 
the corner over there and half covered by the bedding." 

The major went over and touched the things with the 
toe of his boot. 

"It's one of those imps of stable-boys, the young van- 


dais!" he declared, as he kicked the rag and the sponge out 
of the box and across the stable floor. *'It's well for them 
that Farrow isn't about or there would be some cuffed ears 
for that sort of presumption, the young beggars! Hullo! 
Found something else?" 

"No," said Cleek. ''That is, nothing of any importance. 
Merely a bit torn from an old handbill — see? It probably 
got mixed up with the bedding. It's of no account, any- 
how." Here he gave his hand a flirt as if flinging the bit of 
paper over the low barrier of the box, instead of which he 
cleverly ''palmed" it and afterward conveyed it unsuspected 
to his pocket. "You were right in what you declared this 
afternoon, Major; for a case of such far-reaching effects 
it is singularly bald in the matter of detail. At all events 
there's no more to be discovered here. By the way, Doc- 
tor, am I privileged to go up and see the patient? I should 
like to do so if I may." 

"By all means, sir, by all means," replied the doctor. 
"I am happy to inform you that his condition has consid- 
erably improved since my visit at noon, Mr. Cleek, and I 
have now every hope that he may pull through all right." 

"Excellent!" said Cleek. "But I think I shouldn't let 
that good news go abroad just yet a while. Doctor. If you 
haven't taken anybody into your confidence regarding it 
as yet, don't do so. You haven't, have you? " 

"No. That is, nobody but those who are now present. 
I told the major and her ladyship on their return this after- 
noon, of course. And — naturally — Captain MacTavish. 
He was with me at the time I made the examination, which 
led me to arrive at the conclusion that the man would sur- 


"Ah!" said Cleek — and the curious, one-sided smile 
went slowly up his cheek. "Oh, well, everything is all right 
among friends, of course, but I shouldn't let it go any farther. 
And now, if you please, let us go up to Farrow's room." 


They went up forthwith — Lady Mary alone refraining 
from joining the group — and a moment or two later Cleek 
foimd himself standing beside the bed of the unconscious 

He was a strong, sturdily built man, this Tom Farrow, 
upon whose integrity the major banked so heavily in his 
warm, trustful, outspoken way; and if the face is any index 
to the mind — which, in nine cases out of ten, it isn't! — 
that trustfulness and confidence were not misplaced. For 
Farrow's was a frank, open countenance which suggested a 
clear conscience and an honest nature, even though it was 
now pale and drawn with the line ^hat come of suffering 
and injury. 

At Cleek's request the doctor removed the bandages and 
allowed him to inspect the wound at the back of the head. 

" H 'm ! Made with a heavy imp lemen t shaped somewhat 
after the fashion of a golf stick and almost as heavy as a 
sledge hanomer," he commented. ^^Arm broken, too. Prob- 
ably that was done first, and the man struck again after 
he was on the ground and unable to defend himself. There 
are two blows, you see: this one just above the ear, and that 
crushing one at the back of the head. That's all I care to 
see, Doctor, thank you. You may replace the bandages.'* 

Nevertheless, although he asserted this, it was noticeable 
that his examination of the stricken trainer did not end 
here; for while the doctor was busy replacing the bandages 
he took the opportunity to Hf t the man's hands and inspect 
them closely — parting the fingers and looking at the thin, 
loose folds of skin between them. A few minutes later, the 
bandages being replaced and the patient turned over to the 
nurse in charge, the entire party left the room and filed 
down the stairs together. 

"Any ideas, Mr. Cleek?" questioned the major, eagerly. 

"Yes, plenty of them," replied he. "I rather fancy we 
shall not have to put you to the trouble of housing us at the 


Abbey to-night, Major. The case is a shallower one than 
I fancied at first. Shouldn't be surprised if we cleared it all 
up inside of the next two hours." 

^'Well, I'll be — dithered!" exclaimed the major, aghast. 
*^Do you mean to tell me that you've got at the bottom of 
the thing? That you've found something that leads you to 
suspect where the animal is? " 

*'More than suspect, Major. I know where she is. By 
half-past seven o'clock to-night — if you want me to make 
you a promise — I'll put her bridle into your hands and 
she will be at the other end of it ! " 

''You will?" 

"I certainly will, Major — my word for it." 

*'Well, of all the dashed I'm done! I'm winded! 

I'm simply scooped dry! Where on earth did you get your 
clues, man? You never did anything but walk about that I 

could see; and now to declare 1 say, MacTavish, did 

you hear that? Did you hear what he has uromised — 

''I heard," responded the captain with a laugh. ''But I'll 
believe when I see. I say, Mr. Inspector, where did you 
find the secret? Hidden between Farrow's fingers oi 
wrapped around Chocolate Maid's legs?" 

"Both," said Cleek serenely. "Tell you something else 
if you care to hear it. I know who poisoned the dog the 
other night. Farrow did it himself." 

The major's exclamation of indignation was quite lost in 
the peal of the captain's laughter. 

Hawkshaw out-Hawkshawed ! " cried he derisively. 

Find out that, too, from Farrow's fingers?" 

"Oh, no — that would be impossible. He washed them 
before he went out that night and they've been washed by 
the nurse several times since. I found it out from the dog 
himself — and he's not the only dog in this little business, 
beheve me — though I'm wilHng to stake my reputation and 


my life upon it that neither one nor the other of them had 
any hand in spiriting away the missing horse." 

*^Who did, then, Mr. Cleek? who did?" 

"Tom Farrow and Tom Farrow alone. Major," began 
Cleek — and then stopped suddenly, interrupted by a pain- 
ful circumstance. 

By this time they had reached the foot of the stairs and 
were filing out into the stable again, and there by the open 
door Lady Mary Norcross was standing endeavouring to 
soothe and to comfort a weeping girl — Maggie McFar- 
land, the dairymaid from Nairn. 

"Oh, but say he winna dee — say he winna!" she was 
crying out distressfully. "If I thoct the sin o' that wad 
added to the sair conscience o' me." Then with a sudden 
intaking of the breath, as if drowning, and a sudden pale- 
ness that made her face seem ivory white, she cowered 
away, with hands close shut, and eyes wide with fright as 
she looked up and saw the gentlemen descending. 

"It winna matter — it winna matter: I can come again, 
my leddy!" she said in a frightened sort of whisper which 
rose suddenly to a sort of waiHng cry as she faced round 
and ran Hke a thing pursued. 

Cleek glanced round quietly and looked at Captain Mac- 
Tavish. He was still his old handsome, debonnaire, smiling 
self; but there was a look in his eyes which did not make 
them a very pleasant sight at present. 

"Upon my word, Seton, I cannot make out what has come 
over that silly girl," said Lady Mary as her liege lord ap- 
peared. "She came here begging to be allowed to go up and 
see Farrow and to be assured that he would live, and then 
the moment you all put in an appearance she simply dashed 
away, as you saw. I really cannot understand what can 
be the matter with her." 

"Don't bother about that just now, Mary; don't bother 
about anything, my dear, but what this amazing man has 


promised, '^ exclaimed the major excitedly. "Do you know, 
he has declared that if we give him until half-past seven to- 
night " 

Here Cleek interrupted. 

"Your pardon, Major — I amend that," he said. "''I 
know all about the horse and it will not now take so long as 
I thought to know all about the ' dog' as well. Give me one 
hour, Major — just one, gentlemen, all — and I will give 
you the answer to the riddle — every part of it: dog's part 
as well as horse's — here on this spot, so surely as I am a 
living man. Major, all I ask of you is one thing. Let me 
have a couple of your grooms out there on the moor inside 
of the next fifteen minutes, please. May I have them? " 

" Certainly, Mr. Cleek — as many as you want." 

"Two will do, thanks. Two are enough for fair play in 
any little bout and — not going to stop and see the finish, 
Captain? It will all be over in an hour." 

"Sorry, but I've got my packing to attend to, my man." 

"Ah, to be sure. Oh, well, it doesn't matter. You know 
the proverb: ^If the mountain will not come to Mahomet, 
why, Mahomet must go to the mountain,' of course," said 
Cleek. "I'll just slip round to the dairy and have a glass 
of milk to brace me up for the business and then — in one 
hour — in just one by the watch — you shall have the an- 
swer to the riddle — here^ 

Then, with a bow to Lady Mary, he walked out of the 
stable and went round the angle of the building after Maggie 


HE LIVED up to the letter of his promise. 
In an hour he had said when he walked out, and 
it was an hour to the very tick of the minute when he came 

Mr. Narkom knowing him so well, knowing how, in the 
final moments of his coups, he was apt to become somewhat 
spectacular and theatrical, looked for him to return with a 
flourish of trumpets and carry all before him with a whirl- 
wind rush; so that it came in the nature of a great surprise, 
when with the calmness of a man coming in to tea he entered 
the stable with a large stone bottle in one hand and an 
hostler's sponge in the other. 

^' Well, gentlemen, I am here, you see," he said with ex- 
treme calmness. ''And " — indicating the bottle — ''have 
brought something with me to do honour to the event. No, 
not to drink — it is hardly that sort of stuff. It is Spirit of 
Wine, Major. I found it over in Farrow's cottage and 
have brought it with me — as he, poor chap, meant to do 
in time himself. There are some wonderful things in Tom 
Farrow's cottage. Major; they will pay for looking into, I 
assure you. Pardon, Mr. Narkom? A criminal? Oh, no, 
my friend — a martyr! '^ 

"A martyr?" 

"Yes, your ladyship; yes. Major — a martyr. A mar- 
tyr to his love, a martyr to his fidelity. As square a man 
and as faithful a trainer as ever set foot in a stableyard — 
that's Tom Farrow. I take off my hat to him. The world 
can do with more of his kind." 



''But, my dear sir, you said that it was he that spirited 
away the animal; that it was he and he alone who was re- 
sponsible for her disappearance.'' 

''Quite so — and I say it again. Gently, gently, Major 
— I'll come to it in a minute. Personally I should like 
to put it off to the last, it's such a fine thing for a finish, by 
Jove! But — well it can't be done under the circum- 
stances. In other words, there is a part of this little busi- 
ness this evening which I must ask Lady Mary not to stop 
to either hear or see; but as she is naturally interested in the 
matter of Highland Lassie's disappearance I will take up 
that matter first and ask her to kindly withdraw after the 
filly has been restored." 

"Gad! you've found her, then? You've got her?" 

"Yes, Major, I've got her. And as I promised that I 
would put her bridle into your hand with the animal herself 
at the other end of it, why — here you are!" 

Speaking, he walked across to the box where the brown 
filly was tethered, unbolted it, unfastened the animal and 
led her out. 

"Here you are. Major," he said, as he tendered him the 
halter. "Take hold of her, the beauty; and may she carry 
off the Derby Stakes with fl>ang coloars." 

"But, good lud, man, what on earth are you talking 
about? This is Chocolate Maid — this is Lady Mary's horse.' ' 

"Oh, no. Major, oh, no! Chocolate Maid is in the stable 
at Farrow's cottage — hidden away and half starved, poor 
creature, because he couldn't go back to feed and look after 
her. This is your bonny Highland Lassie — dyed to look 
like the other and to throw possible horse nobblers and 
thieves off the scent. If you doubt it, look here." 

He uncorked the bottle, poured some of the Spirit of 
Wine on the sponge and rubbed the animal's brown flank. 
The dark colour came away, the sorrel hide and the white 
splotch began to appear, and before you could say Jack 


Robinson, the major and Lady Mary had their arms about 
the animal's neck and were blubbing like a couple of 

''Oh, my bully girl! Oh, my spiffing girl! Oh, Mary, 
isn't it clinking, dear? The Lassie — the Highland Lassie 
— her own bonny self." 

"Yes, her own bonny self. Major," said Cleek "and you'd 
never have had a moment's worry over her if that faithful 
fellow upstairs had been suffered to get back here that 
night and to tell you about it in the morning. I've had a 
little talk with — oh, well, somebody who is in a position to 
give me information that corroborates my own little 
* shots' at the matter (I'll tell you all about that later on), 
and so am able to tell you a thing or two that you ought to 
have known before this! I don't know whether Lieutenant 
Chadwick's coming here and prying about had any wish to 
do harm to the horse at the back of it or not. I only know 
that Farrow thought it had, and he played this little trick 
to block the game and to throw dust into the eyes of any- 
body that attempted to get at her. What he did then was 
to dye her so that she might be mistaken for Chocolate 
Maid, then to take Chocolate Maid over to his own stable 
and hide her there until the time came to start for Epsom. 
That's what he wanted the pail of water for, Major — to 
mix the dye and to apply it. I half suspected it from the 
beginning, but I became sure of it when I found that scrap 
of paper in the bedding of the box. It was still wet — a 
bit of the label from the dye-bottle which came off in the 
operation. Between the poor chap's fingers I found stains 
of the dye still remaining. Spirit of Wine would have re- 
moved it, but washing in water wouldn't. Pardon, your 
ladyship? When did I begin to suspect that Farrow was 
at the bottom of it? Oh, when first I heard of the poisoned 
dog. Nobody ever heard it bark when the poisoner ap- 
proached the stables. That, of course, meant that the 


person who administered the poison must have been some 
one with whom it w^as famihar, and also some one who w^as 
already inside the place, since even the first approaching 
step of friend or foe would have called forth one soHtary 
bark at least. Farrow didn't do the thing by halves, you 
see. He meant it to look Hke a genuine case of horse 
steahng to outsiders, and kilUng the dog gave it just that 
touch of actuaUty which carries conviction. As for the rest 
— the major must tell you that in private, your ladyship. 
The rest of this little matter is for men alone." 

Lady Mary bowed and passed out into the fast coming 
dusk; and, in the stable the major, Cleek and Narkom 
stood together, waiting until she was well beyond earshot. 
"Now, Major, we will get down to brass tacks, as our 
American cousins say," said Cleek, when that time at 
length came. ''You would like to know, I suppose, how 
poor Farrow came by his injuries and from whose hand. 
Well, you shall. He was coming back from his cottage 
after stabUng the real Chocolate Maid there when the thing 
happened; and he received those injuries for rushing to the 
defence of the woman he loved, and attempting to thrash 
the blackguard who had taken advantage of her trust and 
behef in him to spoil her life forever. The woman was, of 
course, Maggie McFarland. The man was your charming 
guest, Captain MacTavish!" 

"Good God! MacTavish? MacTa\dsh?" 
"Yes, Major — the gallant captain who received such a 
sudden call to rejoin his regiment as soon as he knew that 
Tom Farrow was Hkely to recover and to speak. Perhaps 
you can understand now why Farrow and the girl no longer 
seemed to 'hit it off together as formerly.' The gallant 
captain had come upon the boards. Dazzled by the beauty 
of him, tricked by the glib tongue of him, deluded into the 
behef that she had actually ' caught a gentleman' and that 
he really meant to make her his wife and take her away to 


India with him, when he went, the silly, innocent, confiding 
little idiot became his victim and threw over a good man's 
love for a handful of Dead Sea Fruit." 

"Never for one instant had Tom Farrow an idea of this; 
but the night before last as he crossed the moor — he knew! 
In the darkness he stumbled upon the truth. He heard 
her crying out to the fellow to do her justice, to keep his 
word and make her the honest wife he had promised that 
she should be, and he heard, too, the man's characteristic 
reply. You can guess what happened, Major, when you 
know Tom Farrow. In ten seconds he was up and at that 
fellow like a mad bull. 

''The girl, terrified out of her life, screamed and ran 
away, seeing the brave captain laying about liim with his 
heavy, silver-headed hunting crop as she fled. She never 
saw the end of the fight — she never dared; but in the morn- 
ing when there was no Tom Farrow to be seen, she went out 
there on the moor and found him. She would have spoken 
then had she dared, poor creature, but the man's threat was 
an effective one. If she spoke he would do likewise. If 
she kept silent she might go away and her disgrace be safely 
hidden. Which she chose, we know." 

''The damned hound!" 

"Oh, no. Major, oh, no — that's too hard on hounds. 
The only houndlike thing about that interesting gentleman 
was that he made an attempt to 'get to cover' and to run 
away. I knew that he would — I knew that that was his 
little dodge when he made that little excuse about having 
to pack up his effects. He saw how the game was running 
and he meant to slip the cable and clear out while he had 
the chance." 

"And you let him do it? — you never spoke a word, but 
let the blackguard do it? Gad, sir, I'm ashamed of you!" 

"You needn't be, Major, on that score at least. Please 
remember that I asked for a couple of grooms to be sta- 


tioned on the moor I gave them their orders and then 
went on to Farrow's cottage alone. If they have followed 
out those orders we shall soon see." 

Here he stepped to the door of the stable, put his two 
forefingers between his lips and whistled shrilly. In half a 
minute more the two grooms came into the stable, and be- 
tween them the gallant captain, tousled and rather dirty, 
and with his beautiful hair and moustache awry. 

"Got him, my lads, I see," said Cleek. 

"Yes, sir. Nabbed him sneakin' out the back way like 
you thought he would, sir, and bein' as you said it was the 
major's orders, we copped him on the jump and have been 
holdin' of him for further orders ever since." 

"Well, you can let him go now," said Cleek, serenely. 
"And just give your attention to locking the door and light- 
ing up. Major, Doctor, Mr. Narkom, pray be seated. 
The dear captain is going to give you all a little entertain- 
ment and the performance is about to begin. As good 
with your fists as you are with a metal-headed hunting crop, 

"None of your dashed business what I'm good at," re- 
plied the captain. "Look here, Norcross — ■ — ^" 

"You cut that at once ! " roared the major. "If you open 
your head to me, I'll bang it off you, you brute." 

"Well, then you, Mr. Policeman " 

"Ready for you in a minute. Captain; don't get impa- 
tient," said Cleek, as he laid aside his coat and began to roll 
up his sleeves. "Rome wasn't built in a day — though 
beauty may be wrecked in a minute. You'll have the time 
of your life this evening. You are really too beautiful to 
live, Captain, and I'm going to come as near to kilhng you 
as I know how without actually completing the job. You 
see, that poor little Highland lassie hasn't a father or 
brother to do this business for her, so she's kindly consented 
to my taking it on in her behalf. I'm afraid I shall break 


that lovely nose of yours, my gay gallant — and I don't 
give a damn if I do! A brute that spoils a woman's life 
deserves to go through the world with a mark to record it, 
and I'm going to put one on you to the best of my ability. 
All seated, gentlemen? Right you are. Now then, Cap- 
tain, come on. Come on — you swine! ^^ 

It was twenty minutes later. 

Lady Mary Norcross — deep in the obligatory business 
of dressing for dinner — had just taken up a powder puff 
and was assiduously dabbing the back of her neck, when the 
door behind her opened softly and the voice of her liege 
lord travelled across the breadth of the room, saying: 

^*Mary ! May I come in a minute, dear? I just want to 
get my cheque book out of your writing desk — that's all." 

*' Yes, certainly. Come in by all means," gave back her 
ladyship. ^'I'm quite alone. Springer has finished with 
me, and oh! Good heavens! Seton! My dear, my dearP^ 

''All right. Don't get frightened. It isn't mine. And 
it isn't his, either — much of it. We've been having a little 
'set to' at the stable, and I got it hugging a poHceman." 


"Yes — I know it's awful, but I simply couldn't help it. 
Demmit it, Mary, don't look so shocked — I'd have kissed 
the beggar as well, if I thought I could acquire the trick of 
that heavenly 'jab with the left' that way. I haven't had 
such a beautiful time since the day I was twenty-one, darhng; 
he fights like a blooming angel ^ that chap." 

"What chap? What on earth are you talking about? " 

"That man Cleek. Weeping Widows! It was the 
prettiest job you ever saw. We're sending the beggar over 

to the hospital — and Tell you all about it when J 

get back. Can't stop just now, dear. Bye, bye!" 

Then the door closed with a smack, and man and cheque 
book were on their way downstairs. 


IT IS a recognized fact in police circles that crime has a 
curious propensity for indulging in periodical outbursts 
of great energy, great fecundity, and then lapsing into a 
more or less sporadic condition for a time — like a gorged 
tiger that drowses, and stirs only to lick its chops after a 
hideous feast. So that following the lines of these fixed 
principles the recent spell of criminal activity was succeeded 
by a sort of lull, and the next two weeks were idle ones for 

Idle but idyllic — from his point of view; for he was back 
in the little house in the pleasant country lands now, mth 
his walled garden, his ferns and liis flowers, and the full glory 
of tuHp-time was here. 

And soon another ''glory" would be here as well. 

In twelve more days she would be back in England. In 
twelve more days he and Dollops would move out, and Ailsa 
Lome would move in, and this little Eden in the green and 
fragrant meadowlands would have another tenant from 
that time forth. 

But hers would not be a lonely tenancy, however; for 
*^ Captain Horatio Burdage" had recently written to Mrs. 
Condiment that, as the Sleeping Mermaid seemed Hkely 
to prove an unprofitable investment after all and to bring 
her little reward for her labours, he purposed relinquishing 
it and recalling "Old Joseph" to him; and with that end in 
view had already secured for the good lady a position as 
companion-housekeeper to one Miss Ailsa Lome, who, in 
the early part of June, would call upon her at her present 



qaarters and personally conduct her and the deaf-and-dumb 
maid-of- all- work to their future ones. 

Kere, then, in this bower of bloom, would this dear girl 
of his heart await the coming of that glorious day when the 
last act of restitution had been made, the last Vanishing 
Cracksman debt wiped off the slate, and he could go to 
her — clean-handed at last — to ask the fulfilment of her 

Remembering that, it was a sheer delight to be free from 
all Yard calls for a time that he might give his whole atten- 
tion to the work of getting the place ready for her; and day 
after day he was busy in the high-walled old-world gar- 
den — digging, planting, pruning — that when she came it 
might be brimming over with flowers. 

But although he devoted himself mind and body to this 
task and Hved each day within the limits of that confining 
wall, he had not wholly lost touch with the world at large, 
for each morning the telephone — installed against the time 
of Ailsa's tenancy — put him into communication with Mr. 
Narkom at the Yard, and each night a newspaper carried 
in to him by Dollops kept him abreast of the topics of the 

It was over that telephone he received the first assurance 
that his haste in getting out of Yorkshire had not been an 
xmnecessary precaution, his suspicions regarding the prob- 
able action of the Nosworths not ill grounded, for Mr. 
Narkom was able to inform him that carefully made in- 
quiries had eHcited the intelUgence that, within two days 
after the Round House affair, men who were undoubtedly 
foreigners were making dihgent inquiries throughout the 
West Riding regarding the whereabouts of two men and a 
boy who had been travelhng about in a two-horsed caravan. 

*'That sudden bolt of ours was a jolly good move, old 
chap," said the superintendent, when he made this an- 
nouncement. ''It did the beggars absolutely. Shouldn't 


be a bit surprised if they'd chucked the business as a bad 
job and gone back to the Continent disgusted. At any 
rate, none of my plain-clothes men has seen hide nor hair 
of one of the lot since, either in town or out. Waldem^ar, 
too, seems to have hooked it and can't be traced; so I 
reckon we've seen the last of him." 

But Cleek was not so sure of that. He had his own ideas 
as to what this disappearance of the Apaches meant, and 
did not allow himself to be lulled into any sense of security 
by it. There were more ways than one in which to catch 
a weasel, he recollected, and determined not to relax his 
precautions in the smallest iota when next the Yard's call 
for his services should come. 

That it would come scon he felt convinced as the days 
advanced that rounded out the end of his second week of 
freedom from it; and w^hat fonn it would take when it did 
come was a matter upon which he could almost have staked 
his Hfe, so sure he felt of it. 

For a time of great national excitement, great national 
indignation, had arrived, and the press had made him ac- 
quainted with all the circumstances connected therewith. 
As why not, when the whole country was up in arms over 
it and every newspaper in the land headlined it in double 
caps and poured forth the story in full detail? 

It had its genesis in something which had happened at 
Gosport in the preceding week, and happened in this start- 
ling manner : 

In the waterway between Barrow Island and the extreme 
end of the Royal Clarence Victualhng Yard there had been 
found floating the body of a man of about five-and-thirty 
years of age, fully and fashionably clothed and having all 
those outward signs which betoken a person of some stand- 

It was e\'ident at once that death must have been the 
result of accident, and that the victim had been unable to 


swim, for the hands were encased in Idd gloves, the coat was 
tightly buttoned, and a pair of field-glasses in a leather case 
still hung from the long shoulder-strap which supported 
the weight of them. The victim's inability to swim was 
estabhshed by the fact that he had made no effort to rid 
himself of these hampering conditions, and was clinging 
tightly to a foot-long bit of driftwood, which he must have 
clutched at as it floated by. 

It was surmised, therefore, that the man must have fallen 
into the water in the dark — either from the foreshore or 
from some vessel or small boat in which he was journeying 
at the time — and had been carried away by the swift cur- 
rent and drowned without being missed, the condition of 
the body clearly establishing the fact that it had been in 
the water for something more than a fortnight when found. 
Later it was identified by one of the deck hands of the pleas- 
ure steamer which cruises round the Isle of Wight daily as 
being that of a man he had seen aboard that vessel on one 
of its night trips to Alum Bay between two and three weeks 
previously; and still later it was discovered that a boatman 
in that locality had been hired to take a gentleman from the 
Needles to a yacht *' lying out to sea" that selfsame night, 
and that the gentleman in question never turned up. 

What followed gave these two circumstances an appalling 
significance. For when the body was carried to the mortu- 
ary, and its clothing searched for possible clues to identi- 
fication, there was found upon it a sealed packet addressed 
simply ^'A. Steinmiiller, Konigstrasse 8," and inside that 
packet there were two unmounted photographs of the 
exterior of Blockhouse Fort and the Southsea Fort, a more 
or less accurate ground-plan drawing of the interior of the 
Portsmouth Dockyard, together with certain secret informa- 
tion relative to supplies and to the proposed armament of 
cruisers now undergoing alteration and reequipment. 

The wrath and amazement engendered by that discovery, 


however, were as nothing compared with the one w^hich so 
swiftly followed. 

Brought up before the Admiral Superintendent and the 
Board, John Beachman, the dock master — who alone knew 
these things outside of the Admiralty — was obHged to 
admit that one person, and one only — his eldest son — 
was in a position to obtain admission to the safe in which he 
kept his private papers, and that son w^as engaged to a 
young lady whom he had met during a hoHday tour on the 

^'EngKsh or foreign?" he was asked; to which he repKed 
that she v/as EngHsh — or, at least, Enghsh by birth, al- 
though her late father was a German. He had become 
naturalized before his death, and was wholly in sympathy 
mth the country of his adoption. He did not die in it, 
however. Circumstances had caused him to visit the 
United States, and he had been killed in one of the horrible 
railway disasters for w^hich that country was famous. It 
was because the daughter was thus left orphaned, and was 
so soon to become the wife of their son, that he and Mrs. 
Beaclmian had taken her into their home in advance of the 
marriage. They did not think it right that she should be 
left to live alone and unprotected, considering what she 
was so soon to become to them; so they had taken her into 
the home, and their son had arranged to sleep at an hotel 
in Portsmouth pending the date of the wedding. The 
lady's name was Hilmann — Miss Greta Hilmann. She 
was of extremely good family, and quite well-to-do in her 
own right. She had never been to Germany since the date 
of the engagement. She had relatives there, however; one 
in particular — a Baron von Ziegelmundt and his son Axel. 
The son had visited England twice — once many months 
back, and the last time some seven or eight weeks ago. 
They hked him very much — the bridegroom-elect espe- 
cially so. They had become very great friends indeed. No 


Axel von Ziegelmundt was no longer in England. He had 
left it something like a month ago. He was on a pleasure 
trip round the world, he had heard, but had no idea where 
he had gone when he left Portsmouth. 

Two hours after this statement was made, if the populace 
could have got hold of young Harry Beachman it would 
have torn him to pieces; for it was then discovered that 
the drowned man was no less a person than tliis Herr Axel 
von Ziegelmundt, and that they had not only spent the 
greater part of that particular day shut up in the former's 
room in the Portsmouth hotel, but had been together up to 
the very moment when the excursion steamer had started 
on its moonlight trip to Alum Bay and to the bringing about 
of that providential accident which had prevented the State 
affairs of an imsuspecting nation from being betrayed to a 
secret foe. 

What followed was, in the face of this, of course, but nat- 
ural. John Beachman was suspended immediately, and 
his son's arrest ordered. It served no purpose that he 
denied indignantly the charge of being a traitor, and swore 
by every sacred thing that the hours spent in his room at the 
hotel were passed in endeavouring to master the intricacies 
of the difficult German card game, Skaat, and that never 
in all their acquaintance had one word touching upon the 
country or the country's affairs passed between Axel von 
Ziegelmundt and himself, so help him God ! It was in vain, 
also, that Greta Hilmann — shouting hysterically her be- 
lief in him and begging wildly that if he must be put into 
prison she might be taken with him "and murdered when 
you murder him if he is to be court-martialled and shot, you 
wretched blunderers! " — it was in vain that Greta Hilmann 
clung to him and fought with all her woman's strength to 
keep the guard from laying hands upon him or to tear her 
from his side; the outraged country demanded him, and 
took him in spite of all. Nor did it turn the current of 


sympathy in his direction that, crazed when they tore him 
from her, this frantic creature had gone from swoon to 
swoon until her senses left her entirely, and the end was — 

The full details were never forthcoming. The bare facts 
were that she was carried back to Beachman's house in a 
state of hysteria bordering close upon insanity, and that 
when, under orders from the Admiralty, that house and all 
its contents were impounded pending the fullest inquiry 
into the dock master's books and accounts, the Admiral 
Superintendent and the appointed auditor entered into 
possession, her condition was found to be so serious that it 
was decided not to insist upon her removal for a day or two 
at least. A nurse was procured from the naval hospital 
and put in charge of her; but at some period during the 
fourth night of that nurse's attendance — and when she, 
worn out by constant watching, slept in her chair — the 
half-dehrious patient arose, and, leaving a note to say that 
life had lost all its brightness for her, and if they cared 
to find her they might look for her in the sea, vanished en- 
tirely. She could scarcely have hit upon a worse thing for 
the evil repute of her lover's name or her owti. For those 
who had never known her personally were quick to assert 
that this was proof enough of how the thing had been man- 
aged. In short, that she, too, was a spy, and that she had 
adopted this subterfuge to get back to Germany before the 
scent grew hot and the law could lay a hand upon her. 
Those who had known her took a more merciful view so far 
as she was concerned, but one which made things look all 
the blacker for her lover. What could her desperation and 
her utter giving up all hope even before the man was put on 
trial mean if it was not that she knew he was guilty, knew 
he would never get off with his life, and that her suicide was 
a tacit admission of this ? 


MEANWHILE public indignation ran high, the investi- 
gation of the dock master's books, papers, and accounts 
proceeded in camera, and all England waited breathlessly 
for the result to be made known. 

Thus matters stood when on Thursday night at half-past 
seven o'clock — exactly one week after the discovery of 
that packet on the body of the drowned man — an amazing 
thing happened, a thing which smacked almost of magic, 
and put to shame all that had gone before in the way of 
mystery, surprise, and terror. *" 

The wildest storm that had been known on that coast for 
years had been raging steadily ever since daybreak and was 
raging still. A howling wind, coming straight over the 
Channel from France, was piling ink-black seas against an 
ink-black shore, and all the devils of the pit seemed to be 
loose in the noisy darkness. 

In the suspended dock master's house the Admiral Super- 
intendent, Sir Charles Fordeck, together with his private 
secretary, Mr. Paul Grimsdick, and the auditor, Mr. Alex- 
ander Maclnery, who had been continuing their investi- 
gations since morning, were now coming within sight of the 
work's end — the only occupants of a locked and guarded 
room, outside of which a sentry was posted, while round 
about the house in the stormy outer darkness other guards 
patrolled ceaselessly. Over the books Sir Charles and the 
auditor bent at one end of the room; at the other Paul 
Grimsdick tapped on his typewriter and made transcripts 
from the shorthand notes beside him. It was at this in- 



stant, just when the clock on the mantel was beginning to 
chime the half-hour after seven, that such a crash of thun- 
der ripped out of the heavens that the very earth seemed to 
tremble with the force of it, and the three men fairly jumped 
in their seats. 

*'Gad! that was a stunner, if you like!" exclaimed Sir 
Charles with a laugh. *' Something went down that time, 
or I miss my guess." 

Something had "gone down" — gone down in black and 
white, too, at that — and before another half-hour had 
passed the mystery and the appalHng nature of that some- 
thing was made known to him and to his two companions. 

The operator at the central telegraph office, sitting beside 
a silent instrument with the key open deciphering a mes- 
sage which a moment before had come through, jumped as 
they had jumped when that crash of thunder sounded; then 
without hint or warning up spoke the open instrument, be- 
ginning a sentence in the middle and chopping it off before 
it was half done. 

"Hullo! that deflected something — crossed communica- 
tion or I'm a Dutchman!" he said, and bent over to "take 
it." In another moment he got more of a shock than 
twenty thunderbolts could possibly have given him. For, 
translated, that interrupted communication ran thus : 

". . and eight-inch guns. The floating conning tower's 
lateral plates of ... " 

And there, as abruptly as it began, the communication 
left off. 

"Good God! There's another damned German spy at 
it!" exclaimed the operator, jumping from his seat and 
grabbing for his hat. "Gawdermity, Hawkins, take this 
instrument and watch for more. Somebody's telegraphin' 
naval secrets from the dockyard, and the storm's ' tapped' a 


wire somewhere and sent the message to us!" Then he 
flung himself out into the storm and darkness and ran and 
ran and ran. 

But the mystery of the thing was all the greater when the 
facts came to be examined. For those two parts of sen- 
tences were found to be verbatim copies of the shorthand 
notes which Mr. Paul Grimsdick had just taken down. 
These notes had never left the sight of the three men in the 
guarded room of that guarded house for so much as one 
second since they were made. No one but they had passed 
either in or out of that room during the whole seven days 
of the inquiry. There was no telegraph instrument in the 
room — in the house — or within any possible reach from 
it. Yet somebody in that building — somebody who could 
only know the things by standing in that room and copying 
them, for never once had they been spoken of by word of 
mouth — some invisible, impalpable, superhuman body was 
wiring State secrets from it. How? And to whom? 

Naturally, this state of affairs set the whole country by 
the ears and evoked a panicky condition which was not 
lessened by the Press' frothing and screaming. 

Thus matters stood on the evening of Wednesday, the 
twen'-y-second of May, and thus they still stood on the 
morning of the twenty-third, when the telephone rang and 
Dollops rushed into Cleek's bedroom crying excitedly and 

''Mr. Narkom, sir. Ringing up from his own house. 
W^ants yc i in a hurry. National case, he says, and not 
tu minut' to lose." 

Clee^ was out of bed and at the instrument in a winking; 
but he nad no more than spoken the customary '* Hello!" 
into ti-e receiver, when the superintendent's voice cut in 
cyclon "^^lly and swept everything before it in a small tor- 
nado 01 xcited words. 

'^C^li of the Country, dear chap!" he cried. *'That 


infernal dockyard business at Portsmouth. Sir Charles 
Fordeck just sent through a call for you. Rush like hell I 
Don't stop for anything! Train it over to Guildford if yoa 
have to charter a special. Meet you there — in the Ports- 
mouth Road — with the Kmousine — at seven-thirty. 
We'll show 'em — by God, yes! Good-bye!" 

Then "click!" went the instrument as the communica- 
tion was cut off, and away went Cleek, Hke a gunshot, on a 
wild rush for his clothes. 

The sun was but just thrusting a crimson arc into view in 
the transfigured east when he left the house — on a hard 
run; for part at least of the way must be covered afoot, and 
the journey was long — but by four o'clock it was almost 
as bright as midday, and the possibihty of securing a con- 
veyance for the rest of the distance was considerably in- 
creased by that fact; by five, he had secured one, and by 
seven he was in the Portsmouth Road at Guildford munch- 
ing the sandwiches Dollops had thoughtfully shpped into 
his pocket and keeping a sharp lookout for the coming of 
the red limousine. 

It swung up over the rise of the road and came panting 
toward him at a nerv^e- racking pace while it still lacked ten 
minutes of being the appointed half -hour, and so wild was 
the speed at which Lennard, in his furious interest, was 
making it travel that Cleek could think of nothing to which 
to liken it but a red streak whizzing across a background of 
leaf-green with splatters of mud flying about it and an ovl- 
eyed demon for pilot. 

It pulled up with a jerk when it came abreast o. him, but 
so great was Lennard's excitement, so deep seated his pa- 
triotic interest in the business he had in hand, he setmed to 
begrudge even the half -minute it took to get hirs mar^' 
aboard; and before you could have turned aroun^^ twice 
the car was rocketing on again at a demon's pace. 

*' Gad! but he's full of it, the patriotic beggar \ " sa-'^>- Cleek 


with a laugh, as he found himself deposited in Narkom's 
lap instead of on the seat beside him, so sudden was the 
car's start the instant he was inside. ''It might give our 
German friends pause, don't you think, Mr. Narkom, if 
they could get an insight into the spirit of the race as a 
fighting unit?" 

''It'll give 'em hell if they run up against it — make no 
blooming error about that!" rapped out the superintendent 
too "hot in the choler " to be choice of words. "It's a nasty 
little handful to fall foul of when its temper is up; and this 
damned spy business, done behind a mask of friendship in 

times of peace Look here, Cleek! If it comes to the 

point, just give me a gun with the rest. I'll show the 
Government that I can lick something beside insurance 
stamps for my country's good — by James, yes!" 

"Just so," said Cleek, with one of his curious, crooked 
smiles. He was used to these Httle patriotic outbursts on 
the part of Mr. Narkom whenever the German bogey was 
dragged out by the Press. " But let us hope it will not come 
to that. It would be an embarrassment of riches so far as 
our friends the editors are concerned, don't you think, to 
have two wars on their hands at the same time? And I 
see by papers that the long- threatened Mauravanian revolu- 
tion has broken out at last. In short, that our good friend 
Count Irma has made his escape from Sulberga, put him- 
self at the head of the Insurgents, and is organizing a march 
on the capital " 

Here he pulled himself up abruptly, as if remembering 
something, and, before Mr. Narkom could put in a word, 
launched into the subject of the case in hand and set him 
Ihinking and talking of other things. 


IT HAD gone nine by all the reliable clocks in town when 
the wild race to the coast came to an end, and after 
darting swallowlike through the wind-swept streets of 
Portsmouth, the limousine, mud splashed and disreputable, 
rushed up to the guarded entrance of the suspended dock 
master's house at Portsea; and precisely one and a quarter 
minutes thereafter Cleek stood in the presence of the three 
men most deeply concerned in the clearing up of this 
mystifying affair. 

He found Sir Charles Fordeck, a dignified and courtly 
gentleman of poHshed manners and measured speech, al- 
though now, quite naturally, labouring under a distress of 
mind which visibly disturlDed him. He found Mr. Paul 
Grimsdick, his secretary, a frank-faced, straight-looking 
young EngHshman of thirty; Mr. Alexander Maclnery, a 
stoHd, unemotional Scotsman of middle age, with a huge 
knotted forehead, eyebrows Hke young moustaches, and a 
face like a face of granite; and he found, too, reason to be- 
lieve that each of these was, in his separate way, a man to 
inspire confidence and respect. 

"I can hardly express to you, Mr. Cleek, how glad I am 
to meet you and to have you make this quick response to 
my appeal," said the Admiral Superintendent, offering him 
a welcoming hand. "I feel that if any man is hkely to get 
to the bottom of this mysterious business you are that man. 
And that you should get to the bottom of it — quickly, at 
whatever cost, by whatever means — is a thing to be de- 
sired not only in the nation's interest, but for the honour of 
myself and my two colleagues." 



*'I hardly think that your honour will be called into ques- 
tion, Sir Charles/' replied Cleek, liking him the better for 
the manliness which prompted him in that hour of doubt 
and difficulty to lay aside all questions of position, and by 
the word ^'colleague" Kft his secretary to the level of him- 
self, so that they might be judged upon a common plane 
as men, and men alone. ''It would be a madman indeed 
who would hint at anything approaching treason with 
regard to Sir Charles Fordeck." 

"No madder than he who would hint it of either of these," 
said Sir Charles, laying a hand upon the shoulder of the 
auditor and the secretary, and placing himself between 
them. "I demand to be judged by the same rule, set upon 
the same plane with them. We three alone were in this 
house when that abominable thing happened; we three 
alone had access to the records from which that information 
was wired. It never, for so much as the fraction of one 
second, passed out of our keeping or our sight; if it was wired 
at all it must have been wired from this house, from that 
room, and in that case, one or other of us must positively 
have been the person to do so. Well, / did not; Maclnery 
did not; Grimsdick did not. And yet, as you know, the 
'wiring' was done — we should never stand a chance of 
knowing to whom, nor by whom, but for the accident which 
deflected the course of the message." 

"H'm! Yes! I don't think," commented Cleek reflec- 
tively. "It won't wash, that theory; no, decidedly it 
won't wash. Pardon? Oh, no. Sir Charles, I am not 
casting any doubt upon the telegraph operator's statement 
of the manner in which he received the message; it is his 
judgment that is at fault, not his veracity. Of course, 
there have been cases — very rare ones, happily — of one 
wire automatically tapping another through, as he sug- 
gested, there being a break and an overlapping of the broken 
wire on to the sound one; but in the present instance there 


isn't a ghost of a chance of such a thing having happened. 
In other words, Sir Charles, it is as unsound in theory as 
it is false in fact. Mr. Narkom has been telHng me on the 
way here that the operator accounted for the sudden start- 
ing of the message to the falling of a storm-snapped wire 
upon an uninjured one, and for its abrupt cessation to the 
slipping off of that broken wire under the influence of the 
strong gale. Now, as we entered the town and proceeded 
through it, I particularly noted the fact that no broken 
wires were anywhere \dsible, nor was there sight or sign of 
men being engaged in repairing one." 

''Ah, yes," agreed Sir Charles, a trifle dubiously, "that 
may be quite so, Mr. Cleek; but, if you will pardon my sug- 
gesting it, is there not the possibihty of a flaw in your 
reasoning upon that point? The wire in question may not 
have been located in that particular district through w^hich 
you were travelling. " 

"I don't think there is any chance of my ha\'ing made an 
error of that sort. Sir Charles," repKed Cleek, smihng. 
*'Had I been Hkely to do so, our friend the telegraph opera- 
tor would have prevented it. He recognized at once that 
the communication was coming over the wire from the 
dockyard, I am told; and I have observed that every one 
of the dockyard wires is intact. I fancy when we come 
down to the bottom of it we shall discover that it was not 
the dockyard wire which 'tapped' a message from some 
other, but that the dockyard wire was being 'tapped' it- 
self, and that the storm, causing a momentary interruption 
in the carrying on of that ' tapping' process, allowed a por- 
tion of the message to slip past and continue to the wire's 
end — the telegraph ofiice." 

"Good lud! Then in that case " 

"In that case, Mr. Narkom, there can be no shadow of a 
doubt that that message was sent by somebody in this 
house — and over the dockyard's own private wire." 


''But how, Mr. Cleek — in the name of all that is won- 
derful, how?" 

"Ah, that is the point. Sir Charles. I think we need not 
go into the matter of who is at the bottom of the whole 
affair, but confine ourselves to the business of discovering 
how the thing was done, and how much information has 
already gone out to the enemy. I fancy we may set our 
minds at rest upon one point, however, namely, the iden- 
tity of the person whose hand suppHed the drawing found 
upon the body of the drowned man. That hand was a 
woman's; that woman, I feel safe in saying, was Sophie 
Borovonski, professionally known to the people of the 
underworld as 'La Tarantula.' " 

''I never heard of her, Mr. Cleek. Who is she?'' 

*' Probably the most beautiful, unscrupulous, reckless, 
dare-devil spy in all Europe, Sir Charles. She is a Russian 
by birth, but owns allegiance to no country and to no 
crown. Together with her depraved brother Boris, and her 
equally desperate paramour, Nicolo Ferrand, she forms one 
of the trio of paid bravos who for years have been at the 
beck and call of any nation despicable enough to employ 
them; always ready for any piece of treachery or dirty work, 
so long as their price is paid — as cunning as serpents, as 
slippery as eels, as clever as the devil himself, and as patient. 
We shall not go far astray, gentlemen, if we assert that the 
lady's latest disguise was that of Miss Greta Hilmann." 

''Good God! Young Beachman's fiancee?" 

"Exactly, Sir Charles. I should not be able to identify 
her from a photograph were one obtainable, which I doubt 
— she is far too clever for that sort of thing — but the evi- 
dence is conclusive enough to satisfy me, at least, of the 
lady's identity." 

"But how — how?" 

"Mr. Narkom will tell you, Sir Charles, that from our 
time of starting this morning to our arrival here we made 


but one stop. That stop was at the Portsmouth mortuary 
before we appeared at this house. I wished to see the body 
of the man who was drowned. I have no hesitation, Sir 
Charles, in declaring that that man's name is not, and never 
was, Axel von Ziegelmundt. The body is that of Nicolo 
Ferrand, 'La Tarantula's' clever lover. The inference is 
obvious. 'Miss Greta Hiimann's' anguish and despair 
were real enough, beheve me (that is why it deceived every- 
body so completely). It is not, however, over the frightful 
position of young Beachman that she sorrowed, but over 
the death of Ferrand. Had he lived, I beheve she has 
daring enough to have remained here and played her part 
to the end, but she either lost her nerve and her mental 
balance — which, by the way, is not in the least Hke her 
imder any circumstances whatsoever — or somx other dis- 
aster of which we know nothing overtook her and inter- 
fered with her carrying on the work in conjunction ^^ith her 

''Her brother?" 

"Yes. He would be sure to be about. They all three 
worked in concert. Gad! if I'd only been here before the 
vixen slipped the leash — if I only had ! Let us have the 
elder Mr. Beachman in, if you please. Sir Charles; there's a 
word or so I want to have with him. You've had him sum- 
moned, of course!" 

*'Yes, he and the telegraph operator as well; I thought 
you might wish to question both," replied he. "Grims- 
dick, go — or, no! I'll go myself. Beachmian ought to 
know of this appalHng thing; and it is best that it should be 
broken by a friend." 

Speaking, he left the room, coming back a few minutes 
later in company with the telegraph operator and the now 
almost hysterical dock master. He waited not one second 
for introduction or permission or anything else, that excited 
father, but rushed at Cleek and caught him by the hand. 


"It's my boy and you're clearing him — God bless you!" 
he exclaimed, catching Cleek's hand and wringing it with 
all his strength. ''It isn't in him to sell his country; I'd 
have killed him with my own hand years ago, if I thought it 
was. But it wasn't — it never was! My boy! my boy! 
my splendid, loyal boy!" 

''That's right, old chap, have it out. Here on my shoul- 
der, if you want to, daddy, and don't be ashamed of it!" 
said Cleek, and reached round his arm over the man's, 
shoulder and clapped him on the back. "Let her go, and 
don't apologize because it's womanish. A man without a 
strain of the woman in him somewhere isn't worth the 
powder to blow him to perdition. We'll have him cleared, 
daddy — gad, yes! And look here! When he is cleared 
you take him by the ear and tell him to do his sweetheart- 
ing in England, the young jackass, and to let foreign beau- 
ties alone; they're not picking up with young Englishmen 
of his position for nothing, especially if they are reputed to 
have money of their own and to be connected with titled 
families. If you can't make him realize that by gentle 
means, take him into the garden and bang it into him — 

"Thank you, sir; thank you! I can see it now, Mr. 
Cleek. Not much use in shouting 'Rule Britannia' if 
you're going to ship on a foreign craft, is there, sir? But 
anybody would have been taken in with her — she seemed 
such a sweet, gentle little thing and had such winning ways. 
And when she lost her father, the wife and I simply couldn't 
help taking her to our hearts." 

"Quite so. Ever see that 'father,' Mr. Beachman? " 

"Yes, sir, once; the day before he sailed — or was sup- 
posed to have sailed — for the States." 

"Short, thick-set man was he? Carried one shoulder a 
little lower than the other, and had lost the top of a finger 
on the left hand?" 


''Yes, sir; the little j6nger. That's him to a T." 

"Boris Borovonski!" declared Cleek, glancing over at 
Sir Charles. ''No going to the States for that gentleman 
with a 'deal' like this on hand. He'd be close by and in 
constant touch with her. Did she have any friends in the 
town, Mr. Beachman?" 

"No, not one. She appeared to be of a very retiring 
disposition, and made no acquaintances whatsoever. The 
only outside person I ever knew her to take any interest in 
was a crippled girl who lived with her bedridden mother and 
took in needlework. Greta heard of the case, and went to 
visit them. Afterward she used to carry work to them fre- 
quently, and sometimes fruit and flowers." 

"Ever see that bedridden woman or that cripple girl?" 

"No, sir, never. Harry and I would be busy here most 
of the days, so she always went alone." 

"Did she ever ask Mrs. Beachman to accompany her? " 

"Not that I ever heard of, sir. But it would have been to 
no purpose if she had. The wife is a very deHcate wornan; 
she rarely ever goes anywhere." 

"Hum-m-m! I see! So, then, you really do not know if 
there actually was a woman or a girl at all? Any idea 
where the persons were supposed to live?" 

"Yes. They hired a room on the top floor of a house 
adjoining the Ocean Billow Hotel, sir. At least, Reggie — 
that's my youngest son, Mr. Cleek — saw Greta go in there 
and look do"v\TL from one of the top floor windows one day 
when he was on his way home from school. He spoke to 
her about it at the dinner table that night, and she said that 
that was where her 'pensioners hved.'" 

"Pretty good neighbourhood that, by Jove! for people 
who were 'pensioners' to be hving in," commented Cleek. 
*'The Ocean Billow Hotel is a modern estabHshment — 
lifts, electric hghts, liveried attendants, and caters to people 
of substance and standing." 


"Yes/' admitted Beachman. *'When I was suspended, 
sir, during the examination and this house taken over by 
Sir Charles, I took Mrs. Beachman and Reggie there, and 
we have remained at the place, nominally under guard, 
ever since. You see, being convenient and in a straight: 
line, so to speak, it offered extra advantages in case of my 
being summoned here at a moment's notice." 

"H'ml Yes! I see!" said Cleek, stroking his chin. 
*'In a straight line from here, eh? House next door would, 
of course, offer the same advantages; and from a room on 

the top floor a wire-tapping device Yes, just so! I 

think, Sophie, I think I smell a very large mouse, my dear, 
and I shan't be surprised if we've hit upon the place of 
reception for your messages the very first shot." 

"Messages, Mr. Cleek? Messages?" interposed Sir 
Charles. *' You surely do not mean to infer that the woman 
telegraphed messages from this house? Do you forget, 
then, that there is no instrument, no wire, attached to the 

Cleek puckered up his brows. For the moment he had 
forgotten that fact. 

"Still, there are wires passing over it. Sir Charles," he 
said presently; "and if a means of communication with 
those were established, the ' tapper*' at the other end could 
receive messages easily. She is a devil of ingenuity is 
Sophie. I wouldn't put it beyond her and her confederates 
to have rigged up a transmitting instrument of some sort 
which the woman could carry on her person and attach to 
the wire when needed." 

Here Sir Charles threw in something which he felt to be 
in the nature of a facer. 

"Quite so," he admitted. "But do not forget, Mr. 
Cleek, that the deflected message was sent last night, and 
that the woman was not then in this house." 


THE queer little one-sided smile cocked up the corner 
of Cleek's mouth. ^' Sure of that, Sir Charles?" he ik~ 
quired placidly. " Sure that she was not? I am told, it is 
true, that she left the note saying she was going to drown 
herself, and disappeared four nights ago; I am also told 
that since the date of Mr. Beachman's suspension this 
place has been under constant guard night and day, but 
I have not been told, however, that any of the guards 
saw her leave the place. No, no, no I Don't jump to con- 
clusions so readily, gentlemen. She will be out of it now, 
— out and never likely to return; the news of that miscar- 
ried message would warn her that something was wrong, 
and she would be ' up and out of it ' like a darting swallow. 
The question is, how and when did she get out? Let's 
have in the guard and see." 

The sentries were brought in one after the other and 
questioned. At no time since they were first put on guard, 
they declared — at no time, either by day or by night — 
had any hving creature entered or left the house up to now, 
except the Admiral Superintendent, his secretary, the au- 
ditor, and the nurse who had been summoned to look after 
the stricken girl. To that they one and all were willing to 
take solemn oath. 

There is an old French proverb which says: ''He that 
protests too much leads to the truth in spite of himself." 
It was the last man to be called who did this. 

''No, sir, nobody passed, either in or out, I'll take my 
dying oath to that," asserted he, his feehngs riled up by the 



thought that this constant questioning of his statement 
was a slur upon his devotion to his duty. ^' There aren't 
nobody going to hint as I'm a slacker as don't know what 
he's a-doing of, or a blessed mug that don't obey orders; 
no, sir — no fear! Sir Charles's orders was, 'Nobody in 
or out' and nobody in or out it was; my hat! yuss! Why, 
sir " — turning to the dock master — "you must 'a' known; 
he must 'a' told you. I wouldn't allow even young Master 
Reggie in last night when he came a-pleading to be let in 
to get the school books he'd left behind." 

"When he what?^^ almost roared the dock master, fairly 
jumping. "Good lord, Marshall, have you gone off your 
head? Do you mean to claim that you saw my boy here — 
last night?" 

"Certainly, sir. Just after that awful clap of thunder 
it was — say about eight or ten minutes after; and what 
with that and the darkness and the way the wind was howl- 
ing, I never see nor heard nothing of him coming till I got 
to the door, and there he was — in them Kght-coloured 
knickers and the pulled-down wideawake hat I'd seen him 
wear dozens of times — with his coat collar turned up and a 
drippin' umbrella over his head, making Kke he was going 
up the steps to try and get in. 'Who's there? ' as I sings to 
him, though I needn't, for the little light was streaking out 
through the windows showed me what he was wearing and 
who it was well enough. 'It's me — Master Reggie, Mar- 
shall,' he says. ' I've come to get my school books. I left 
'em behind in the hurry, and father says he's sure you'll let 
me go in and get 'em.' 'Oh, does he?' says I. 'Well, I'm 
surprised at him and at you, too. Master Reggie, a-thinking 
I'd go against orders. Word is that nobody gets in; and 
nobody does, even the king hisself, till them orders is 
changed. So you just come away from that door, and 
trot right away back to your pa,' I says to him, ' and ask him 
from me what kind of a sentry he thinks Bill Marshall is.' 


Which sets him a-snivelling and a-pleading till I has to take 
him by the shoulder, and fair drag him away before I could 
get him to go as he'd been told.'^ 

'^Well done, Sophie!" exclaimed Cleek. ^'Gadl what a 
creature of resource the woman is, and what an actress she 
would make, the vixen! No need to ask you if your son 
really did come over here last night, Mr^ Beachman; your, 
surprise and indignation have answered for you." 

''I should think it would, by George!" rapped out the 
dock master. "What sort of an insane man must you have 
thought me, Marshall, to credit such a thing as that? As if 
I'd have been hkely to let a dehcate fifteen-year-old boy 
go out on an errand of any kind in a beast of a storm like 
last night's, much less tell him that he was to ask a sentry, 
in my name, to disobey his orders. Good God! gentlemen, 
it's simply monstrous! Why, look here, Sir Charles; look 
here, Mr. Cleek! Even if I'd been guilty of such a thing, 
and the boy was willing to go out, he couldn't have done 
it to save his Hfe. The poor little chap met with an acci- 
dent last night and he's been in bed ever since. He was 
going down the stairs on his way to dinner when that terrific 
clap of thunder came, and the blessed thing startled him so 
much that, in the pitch darkness, he missed his footing, 
fell clear to the bottom of the staircase, and broke his collar 

"Poor little lad! Too bad, too bad!" sympathized Sir 
Charles, feehngly, and, possibly, would have said more but 
that Cleek' s voice broke in softly, but with a curiously sharp 
note imderlying its sleekness. 

"In the pitch darkness, Mr. Beachman?" it inquired. 
" The pitch darkness of a pubhc hotel at dinner time ? Isn't 
that rather extraordinary? " 

"It would be, under any other circumstances, sir, but 
that infernal clap of thunder interfered in some way with 
the electric current, and every blessed Hght in the hotel went 


smack out — whisk ! like that ! — and left the place as 
black as a pocket. Everybody thought for the moment 
that the wires must have fused, but it turned out that there 
was nothing the matter with them — only that the current 
had been interrupted for a bit — for the lights winked on 
again as suddenly as they had winked out." 

^'By Jupiter!" Cleek cracked out the two words like 
the snapping of a whip lash, then quickly turned round on 
his heel and looked straight and intently at the telegraph 

"Speak up — quick!" he said in the sharp staccato of 
excitement. '' I am told that when that crash came and the 
diverted message began there was a force that almost 
knocked you off your stool. Is that true? " 

"Yes, sir," the man replied, "perfectly true. It was 
something terrific. The Lord only knows what it would 
have been if I'd been touching the instrument." 

"You'd have been as dead as Julius Caesar!" flung back 
Cleek. "No wonder she cut away to see what was wrong, 
the vixen! No wonder the lights went out! Mr. Narkom, 
the limousine — quick! Come along. Sir Charles; come 
along, Mr. Beachman — come along at once!" 

"Where, Mr. Cleek — where?" 

"To the top floor of the house next door to the Ocean 
Billow Hotel, Sir Charles, to see ^Miss Greta Hilmann's' 
precious pensioners," he made answer, rather excitedly. 
"Unless I am wofully mistaken, gentlemen, one part of 
this Httle riddle is already solved, and the very elements 
have conspired to protect England to become her foeman's 

He was not mistaken — not in any point with regard to 
that house and the part it had played in this peculiar case — 
for, when they visited it and demanded in the name of the 
law the right to enter and to interview "the bedridden 
woman and the crippled girl who occupied the top floor," 


they were met with the announcement that no such persons 
dwelt there, nor had ever done so. 

''It is let to an invalid, it is true," the landlady, a moth- 
erly, unsuspecting old soul, told them when they made the 
demand. "But it is a gentleman, not a lady. A profes- 
sional gentleman, I believe — artist or sculptor, something 
of that sort — and never until last night has anybody been 
with him but his niece, who makes occasional calls. Last 
night, however, a nephew came — just for a moment; in- 
deed, it seemed to me that he had no more than gone up- 
stairs before he came down again and went out. Pardon? 
No, nobody has called to-day, neither has the gentleman 
left his room. But he often sleeps until late." 

He was sleeping forever this time. For when they came 
to mount the stairs and force open the door of the room, 
there, under a half-opened skylight, a dead man lay, one 
screwed-up, contracted hand still clutching the end of a flex, 
which went up and out to the telegraph "vvdres overhead. 
On a table beside the body a fused and utterly demoKshed 
telegraph instrument stood; and it was evident from the 
scrap of flex still cKnging to this that it had once formed 
part of that which the dead hand held; that it had snapped 
somehow, and that the man was attempting to re-attach it 
to the instrument when death overtook him. 

''Gentlemen, the vnve tapper '■ — Boris Borovonski!" said 
Cleek, as he bent over and looked at him. "Step here, Mr. 
Beachman, and tell me if this is not the mian who played 
the part of 'Miss Greta Hilmann's' interesting papa." 

"Yes, yes!" declared the dock master excitedly, after 
he, too, had bent over and looked into the dead face. "It 
is the very man, sir, the very one! But who — but why — 
but how?" He then looked upward in a puzzled way to 
where the flex went up and out through the skyhght and, 
threading through a maze of wires, hooked itself fast to one. 

"Electrocuted," said Cleek, answering that inquiring 


glance. "A few thousand volts — a flash of flame through 
heart and head and hmbs, and then this! See his little 
game, Mr. Narkom? See it, do you, Sir Charles? He was 
taking the message from the tapped wire with that flex, 
and the fragment that reached the telegraph ofl5.ce only got 
through when the flex snapped. The furious gale did 
that, no doubt, whipping it away from its moorings, so 
to speak, and letting the message flash on before he could 
prevent it. 

^' Can't you read the rest when you look up and see that 
other wire — the thick one with the insulated coating torn 
and frayed by contact with the chimney's rough edge? It 
is not hard to reconstruct the tragedy when one sees that. 
When the flex snapped he jumped up and grabbed it, and 
was in the very act of again attaching it to the instrument 
when he became his own executioner. Look for yourself. 
The wild wind must either have blown the flex against the 
bared wire of the electric light or the bared wire against the 
flex — that we shall never know — and in the winking of 
an eye he was annihilated. 

^'No wonder the lights in the hotel went out, Mr. Beach- 
man. The whole strength of the current was short-cir- 
cuited through this man's body, and it crumpled him up as 
a glove crumples when it is cast in the fire. But the dead 
hand, which had recovered the broken flex, still held it, you 
see, and no more of the Happed' message went down the 
dockyard wire. So long as that message continued, so 
long as the instnmient which sent it continued to send it, 
it was 'received' here — a mere silent, unrecorded, impotent 
thrill locked up in the grip of a dead man's hand. 

''And look there — the pile of burnt paper beside the 
fused instrument and the cinder of a matchbox against it. 
The force which obHterated life in him infused it into the 
'dipped' heads of those little wooden sticks, and flashed 
them into flame. So long as there was anythiag for that 


flame to feed upon it continued its work, you see, and Sophie 
Borovonski found nothing to take away with her, after all. 
Gentlemen, the State secrets that were stolen will remain 
England's own — the records were burnt, and the dead 
cannot betray." 


IT HAD gone two o'clock. The morning's work was 
done, a hasty luncheon disposed of, and the investiga- 
tors were back in the dockmaster's house discussing the 
curious features of the case again. 

^'And now, gentlemen," said Cleek, *'to the unsolved 
part of the riddle — the mysterious manner in which the 
messages were sent from this house. For sent from here 
they undoubtedly were, and by Sophie Borovonski; but the 
question of how still remains to be discovered." 

*'I make it that it's the devil's own work, Mr. Cleek," 
said Maclnery, ''and that there must have been some acci- 
dent connected with it, the same as with the taking off of 
the wire-tapping chap." 

''Hardly that, I'm afraid," repHed Cleek. "I think it 
was accident which put a stop to the proceedings here, not 
one which created them. We now know perfectly well 
that the woman was in this house — undiscovered and un- 
suspected for days; and you may safely lay your life that 
she wasn't idle, wasn't stopping here for nothing. The 
pile of papers burnt shows very clearly that considerable 
intelligence had been forwarded to her brother, so it is safe 
to infer that she was wiring it to him constantly." 

"But how was it possible for her to obtain that informa- 
tion?" queried Sir Charles. "I again declare to you most 
solemnly, Mr. Cleek, that no one entered or left the room, 
that no word was spoken that could be said to have any 
bearing upon secret matters, so nothing could possibly be 
overheard; and how could the woman read documents 



which were never out of our sight for a minute? Granted 
that she had some means of wiring intelligence to her 
brother — indeed, we now know that to ha-tre been the 
case — how under God's heaven did she obtain that 

*'Well, that's a facer, certainly, Sir Charles; but with 
such a past-mistress of ingenuity as she — well, you never 
know. Sure she couldn't possibly have managed to get 
into the room and hide herself somewhere, you think? " 

"1 am positive she couldn't. The thing isn't possible. 
There's no place where she could have hidden. Come in 
and see." 

He unlocked the door and, followed by the rest, led the 
way into the room where the inquiry into the dockmaster's 
affairs had been held. A glance about it was 'suf&cient to 
corroborate Sir Charles's statement. 

On one side stood a large fireproof safe, closely locked; 
on the other were two windows — iron-grilled and with in- 
side shutters of steel; at one end was a large flat- topped 
table, at which Sir Charles and Maclnery had conducted 
their investigation of the books, et cetera, and at the other 
a smaller writing-table, upon which stood a typewriter set 
on a sound-deadening square of felt, and over which hung 
a white-disked electric bulb. There were five chairs, and 
not another mortal thing. No cupboard, no wardrobe, no 
chest — nothing under heaven in which a creature any big- 
ger than a cat could have hidden. 

"You see," said Sir Charles, with a wave of the hand, 
"she couldn't have hidden in here, neither could she have 
hidden outside and overheard, for nothing was said that 
could have been of any use to her." 

"Quite confident of that?" 

"Oh, I can answer for that, Mr. Cleek," put in young 
Grimsdick. "We were so careful upon that point that Sir 
Charles never dictated even the smallest thing that ha 


wanted recorded; merely passed over the papers and said: 
' Copy that where I have marked it' ; and to save my table 
from being overcrowded, I scratched down the marked 
paragraphs in shorthand, and prepared to transcribe them 
on the typewriter later. Why, sir, look here; the diabolical 
part of the mystery is that those two fragments of sentences 
flashed out at the telegraph ofhce at the time of that fright- 
ful peal of thunder, and at that very instant I was in the act 
of transcribing them on the typewriter." 

*' Hello! Hello!" rapped out Cleek, twitching round 
sharply. "Sure of that, are you ■ — absolutely sure?" 

''Beyond all question, Mr. Cleek. Sir Charles will tell 
you that the thunder-clap was so violent and so sudden that 
both he and Mr. Maclnery fairly jumped. As for me, I was 
so startled that I struck a wrong letter by mistake and had 
to rub out a word and type it over again. Come and see. 
The paper is still on my table, and I can show you the eras- 
ure and the alteration. Now, nobody could have seen that 
paper, at that particular time; not a soHtary word had been 
spoken with regard to it, and it wasn't more than half a 
minute before that Sir Charles himself had taken it out of 
the safe. Look, sir, here's the paper and here's the place 
where I erased the word — see? " 

Cleek walked over to the typewriter and looked at the 
paper, saw the erasure, lifted it, looked at other typed sheets 
lying under it, and then knotted up his brows. 

'' H'm ! " he said reflectively, and looked farther. "You've 
got a devilish hard touch for a man who does this sort of 
thing constantly, and ought therefore to be an adept in the 
art of typewriting evenly. And there are other errors and 
erasures. Look here, my friend, I don't believe you're 
used to this machine." 

"No, sir, I'm not. I'm not accustomed to a shift key. 
My own machine hasn't one." 

"Your own! By Gad! What are you using this ma- 


chine for, then, if you've got one of your own? And why 
didn't you bring your own when you came here on impor- 
tant business Hke this?" 

"1 did; but as we found this one already here I started in 
on it; and when I found it difhcult to work, I went out to 
get my own, which I'd left in the outer room, just as I'd 
taken it from the carrier who brought it over. But the 
careless beggar must have handled it as if it were a trunk, 
for the spring was broken, the carriage wouldn't work, and 
two of the type bars were snapped off." 

''By Jupiter r^ Cleek's voice struck in so suddenly and 
with such vehemence that it was almost a bark, like that 
of a startled terrier, and Mr. Narkom, knowing the signs, 
fairly jumped at him. 

"You've found out something, / know!" he cried. 
*' What is it, old chap — eh?" 

''Let me alone, let me alone! " flung back Cleek, irritably. 
"I want the dockmaster! I want him at once! Where is 
the man? Oh, there you are, Mr. Beachman. Speak up 
— quickly. Was that 'Hilmann' woman ever allowed to 
enter this room? Did she ever make use of this typewriter 
at any time?" 

"Yes, sir — often," he replied. "She was one of the 
best and most careful typists I ever saw. Used to attend 

to all my correspondence for me and Good God, 

man, what are you doing? Don't you know that that 
thing's Government property?" 

For Cleek, not waiting for him to finish what he was say- 
ing, had suddenly laid hands on the machine, found it 
screwed fast to the table and, catching up the nearest chairp 
was now smashing and banging away at it with all his 

"Government destruction, you mean!" he gave back 
sharply. "Didn't I tell you she was a very demon of in- 
genuity, stupid? Didn't I say Victory! Now then, 


look here — all of you! Here's a pretty little contrivance, 
if you like." 

He had battered the typewriter from its fastenings and 
sent it crashing to the floor, a wreck, not ten seconds before; 
now, his hand, which, immediately thereafter, had been 
moving rapidly over the surface of the sound-deadening 
square of felt beneath, whisked that, too, from the table, 
and let them all see the discovery he had made. 

Protruding from the surface of that table and set at 
regular intervals there were forty-two needle points of steel 
— one for each key of the typewriter — which a moment 
before had pierced the felt's surface just sufhcient to meet 
the bottom of the ''key" above it, and to be driven down- 
ward when that key was depressed. 

Spectacular as ever in these times, he faced about and 
gave his hand an outward fling. 

''Gentlemen, the answer to the riddle," he said. "You 
have been supplying her with the needed information your- 
selves. A ducat to a door knob, every time a letter was 
struck on this machine its exact duplicate was recorded 
somewhere else. Get a saw, Mr. Beachman, and let us 
see to what these steel points lead." 

They led to a most ingenious contrivance, as it turned 
out. A highly sensitive spiral spring attached to an " arm" 
of thin, tough steel beneath the surface of the table com- 
municated with a rigid wire running down the wall behind 
one of that table's back legs and, passing thence through a 
small gimlet-hole in the floor, descended and disappeared. 

Following that wire's course, they, too, descended until, 
in the fulness of time, the end was reached in a far corner 
of the cellar underneath the building. 

There, behind an upturned empty cask, they came upon 
yet another wire, which wound upward, and was found 
afterward to travel out and up beside the "leader" until it 
joined the private wire of the dockyard just outside the 


dormer window of what had once been Miss Greta Hil- 
mann's bedroom. And to these wires — the one descend- 
ing and the other ascending from behind that empty cask 
in the cellar — there was a singular contrivance attached. 
To one, a plain, everyday instrument for dispatching tele- 
grams by the Morse system; to the other, a curious little 
keyboard which was an exact counterpart of the keyboard 
to the typewriter upstairs; and besides this there lay some 
remnants of food from the store cupboard of the house, and 
a sheaf of paper leaves covered with typewritten characters. 

*' Gentlemen, the absolute end of the riddle at last," said 
Cleek as he took up one of those leaves. *'Lookatthem — 
Government secrets every one. And I, like an ass, forgot 
to remember that Nicolo Ferrand was one of the cleverest 
mechanicians and one of the craftiest 'wire workers' that 
the underworld boasts. Look, Sir Charles; look, Mr. 
Narkom. Every touch of a letter on the keyboard of the 
typewriter upstairs registered its exact duplicate on this 
infernal contrivance down here, and fast as it was recorded, 
that vixen wired it on to Boris Borovonski. Can't you 
understand now why she left her post and flew to him? 
The shock which killed him and travelled with lessened 
force down the wire to the telegraph operator was felt here, 
and the instrument she used was, in all probability, dis- 
abled. She knew then, of course, that something had hap- 
pened to her brother, and in a panic flew to find out what. 

"But even the shrewdest sKp up sometimes and overlook 
things. Her fooUsh slip lay in this: that she forgot to 
take with her these original drafts of the intelHgence she 
Jiad wired to the dead man." 

"Ah, weel," said Mr. Alexander Maclnery, who, like a 
true Scotsman, never liked to be found at the small end of 
the horn upon any occasion, ''after all, 'tis no more than I 
expected. I said it was accident that was at the bottom of 
it, and accident it's turned out to be." 


"No doubt," agreed Cleek, with one of his peculiar 
smiles. "But, personally, I always like to think that there's 
a Power above, and when men — aiid nations — have 

played the game squarely Shan't we be going upstairs, 

Sir Charles? Mr. Narkom and I have a long ride back to 
town, and the afternoon is on the decHne." 

It was still farther on that road, however, before he was 
able to actually tear himself away from the dockyard and 
be off home; for there were those little legal necessities 
which are the penalty of dealing with Government affairs 
to be attended to ; there was the boring business of meeting 
high officials, and Hstening to compliments and congratula- 
tions, and he was really glad when the limousine, answering 
to orders, rolled up, the final good-byes were said, and he 
and Mr. Narkom swung off townward together. 

But despite the fact that he had just carried to a success- 
ful conclusion a case which would go far to enhance his 
reputation and to hasten the day for which he had so long 
and so earnestly worked, Cleek was singularly uncom- 
municative, markedly abstracted, as they rode back 
through the streets of Portsmouth Town on their way to 
the highroad; and had the superintendent been more 
observant and less wrapped up in the glory that was to be 
theirs as the result of the day's adventure, he might have 
discovered that, while his ally seemed to be dozing stupidly 
when he was not leaning back in a comer and smoking, 
he was all the time keeping a close watch of the crowded 
streets through which they were speeding as if looking 
for some one or something he expected to see. Nor 
did he relax this pecuKar system of vigilance even after 
the town itself had dropped away into the far distance, 
and the car was scudding along over the broad stretches 
and the less-frequented thoroughfares of the open coun- 

"I shall not go all the way back with you, if you don't 


mind, Mr. Narkom," he said, breaking silence abruptly, 
as they raced along. ^'Just set me down at the place 
where you picked me up this morning, please, and I will 
do the rest of the journey by train.'' 

'Xinnamon! Why?" 

''Oh, just a mere whim of mine, that's all. No — don't 
press me for an explanation, please. 'WTiere ignorance is 
bhss," et cetera. Besides, I'm a whimsical beggar at best, 
you know — and who bothers to inquire why a donkey pre- 
fers thistles to hay? So just drop me down when w^e reach 
the outskirts of Guildford, if you will be so kind." 

Mr. Narkom was discreet enough to drop the subject 
at that and to make no further allusion to the matter until 
they came, in the fulness of time, to the place in question. 
Here he called Lennard to a halt, and Cleek ahghted — not 
furtively, nor yet in haste — and, standing beside the car, 
reached in and shook hands with him. 

"Until you want me again," he smiled in his easy, off- 
hand way. "And if that turns out to be a long time off I 
shan't be sorry. Meanwhile, if you wish to do me a favour, 
look about for a limousine of another make and a quite 
different colour. I've an odd idea that this one is fast 
coming to the end of its career of usefuhiess. Good-bye. 
All right, Lennard — let her go." 

Then the door of the car closed with a smack, and he was 
off and away — so openly and at such a leisurely pace that 
it was clear he had neither need nor desire to effect a get- 
away unobserved. 

"Well, I'll be dashed!" was Mr. Narkom's unspoken 
comment upon the proceeding — for, under his hat, he had 
come to the conclusion that Cleek had, in some way, by 
some unconfessed means, learned that Waldemar or the 
Apache had come back into the game and were again on his 
heels, but had said nothing for fear of worr>^ing him. 
"Walking off as cool as you please and never the first 


attempt to come any of his old Vanishing Cracksman's 
dodges. Amazing beggar! What's he up to now, I won- 

It is just possible that could he have followed he would 
have wondered still more, for Cleek was bearing straight 
down upon the populous portions of the town, and about 
ten minutes after they two had parted, struck into the High 
Street, wallced along it for a short distance, studying the 
signs over the various buildings until, sighting one which 
announced that it was tlie Guildford Office of the Royal 
British Life Assurance Society, he crossed the street, and 
with great deliberation passed in under it, and disappeared 
from sight. 

It was one of the contradictory points of his singularly 
contradictory character, that whereas he had chafed under 
the delay in getting away from the Royal dockyard at 
Portsea because he was eager to get back to his work in the 
little old walled garden, and all his thoughts were with the 
flowers he was preparing for her, in the end he did not see 
the place until after the moon was up, and all hope of gar- 
dening for that day had to be abandoned entirely, yet — he 
came back to Dollops whistling and as happy as a sand- 

He was up with the first cock crow next morning, and 
dawn found him plying fork and rake and trowel among the 
flowers, and positively bubbling over with enthusiasm; for 
the budding roses were just beginning to show colour and 
to give promise of full bloom for the day of days — and 
more than that he did not ask of heaven. 

Indeed, it was written that he might not, for the balance 
had again swung over, the call of Nature again sounded, 
and the Great Mother, taking him to her bosom, had again 
merged the Man in the Idealist and cradled him into for- 
getfulness of all spells but hers. So that all through the 
day he went in and out among his flowers whistling and 


singing and living in a sort of ecstasy that ran on like a 
dream without end. 

On the morrow the Httle garden was all finished and 
ready, and nothiQg now remained but to sit in idleness and 


MAY had smiled itself out and June had blushed itself 
in — the most wondrous June, in Cleek's eyes, the 
world had ever seen. For the long waiting was over, the 
old order of things had changed, the little house in the mea- 
dowlands had its new tenant, and she was in England again. 

It did not fret him, as it otherwise might have done, that 
he and Dollops had been obliged to go back to the old busi- 
ness of lodging a week here and a week there in the heart 
of the town, rather than within reach of the green trees and 
the fragrant meadows he loved, for always there was the 
chance of stealing out to meet her in the glorious country- 
lands when the evening came, or of a whole "day with her in 
the woods and fields when a whole day could be spared ; and 
to a nature such as his these things were recompense enough. 

Not that many days could be spared at present, for, 
although nothing had been seen or heard of Waldemar or 
the Apaches for weeks on end, these were strenuous times 
for Mr. Narkom and the forces of the Yard, and what with 
the Coronation of his Majesty close at hand, and every train 
discharging hordes of visitors into London day in and day 
out, and crooks of every description — homemade as well 
as imported — from the swell mobsman down to the com- 
mon lag making it the Mecca of an unholy pilgrimage — - 
they had their hands filled to overflowing, and were worked 
to their utmost capacity. 

The result, so far as Cleek was concerned, scarcely needs 
recording. It was not in him to be guilty of that form of 
snobbishness which is known as "standing on his dignity" 



at such a time — when the man who had stood his friend 
was in need of help, indeed, might lose his ofhcial head 
if he were found wanting in such a crisis — so that, natur- 
ally, he came to Mr. Narkom's assistance and took a hand 
in the '^sorting out" process in the manner — yes, and at 
times, in the uniform, too — of the ordinary constable, and 
proved of such invaluable aid in the matter of scenting out 
undesirables and identifying professional crooks that things 
speedily fell into a more orderly shape, and he had just 
begun to look forward to a resumption of those happy days 
of wandering in the woods with Ailsa when out of the lull of 
coming peace there fell an official bombshell. 

It took the form of a cablegram — a belated cipher com- 
munication from the police of America to the police of Great 
Britain — which on being decoded, ran thus: 

"Just succeeded in tracing 218. Sailed ten days ago on 
Tunisian — Allan Line — from Canada, under name of Ham- 
mond. Woman with him. Handsome blonde. Passing as 
sister. Believed to be 774." 

Now as this little exchange of courtesies relative to the 
movements of the noted figures of the underworld is of al- 
most daily occurrence between the police systems of the 
two countries in question, Mr. Narkom had only to consult 
his Code Book to get at the gist of the matter; and when he 
did get at it, his httle fat legs bent under him like a couple 
of straw^s, his round little body collapsed into the nearest 
chair, and he came within a hair's breadth of having a 

For the Tunisian, as it happened, had docked and dis- 
charged her passengers exactly thirteen hours before, so 
that it was safe to declare that the persons to whom those 
numerals alluded had unquestionably sHpped unchallenged 
past the guardians of the port, and were safely housed at 
this minute within the intricacies of that vast brick-and- 


mortar puzzle, London; yet here they were registered in the 
Code Book, thus: 

"No. 218 — Nicholas Hemmingway, popularly known as 
* Diamond Nick.' American. Expert swindler, confidence man 
and jewel thief. Ex-actor and very skilful at impersonation. 
See Rogues' Gallery for portrait. 

"No 774 — Ella Plawsen, variously known to members of the 
light-fingered fraternity as 'Dutch Ella' and 'Lady Bell.' 
German- American. Probably the most adroit female jewel 
thief in existence. Highly educated, exceedingly handsome, 
and amazingly plausible and quick witted. Usually does the 
^society dodge.' Natural blonde, and about twenty-five years 
old. No photograph obtainable." 

Within forty-five minutes after Mr. Narkom had mas- 
tered these facts he had rushed with them to Cleek, and 
there was a vacancy in the list of special constables from 
that time forth. 

''Slipped in, have they?" said Cleek when he heard. 
^'Well, be sure of one thing, Mr. Narkom: they will not 
have gone to a hotel — at least in the beginning — they 
are far too sharp for that. Neither will they house them- 
selves in any hole and corner where their sallying forth in 
fine feathers to make their little clean-up would occasion 
comment and so lead to a clue. Indeed, I shouldn't be 
surprised if they were far too shrewd to remain together in 
any place, but will elect to operate singly, appear to have 
no connection whatsoever, while they are here, and to have 
a sort of 'happy reunion' elsewhere after their little job 
has been pulled off successfully. But in any case, when we 
find them — if we ever do — depend upon it they will be, 
located in some quiet, respectable, secluded district, one of 
the suburbs, for instance, and living as circumspectly as 
the most prudish of prying neighbours could desire. 

" Let us then go in for a series of 'walking tours' about the 
outlying districts, Mr. Narkom, and see if we can't stimible 


over something that will be worth while. It is true I've 
never met nor even seen Hemmingway, but I fancy I should 
know if a man were made up or not for the role in which he 
appears. I did, however, brush elbows with Dutch Ella 
once. It was that time I went over to New York on that 
affair of the Amsterdam diamonds. You remember? When 
I 'spKt' the reward with the fellow from Mulberry Street, 
whose daughter wanted to study music as a profession and 
he couldn't afford to let her. I hobnobbed with some ac- 
quaintances of the — er — old days, over there, and went 
one night to the big French Ball at the Academy of Music, 
where, my companion of the night told me, there would be 
*a smashing big clean-up, as half the swell crooks in town 
would be there — for business.' 

"They were, I dare say, for he kept pointing out this one 
and that to me and saying, ' That's so and so !' as they danced 
past us. I shouldn't know any of them again, so far as 
looks are concerned, for the annual French Ball in New 
York is a masked ball, as you are, perhaps, aware; and I 
shouldn't know 'Dutch Ella' any better than the rest, but 
for one thing — although I danced with her." 

"Danced with her, Cleek? Danced? " 

*' Yes. For the purpose of ' getting a line on her shape, ' so 
to speak, for possible future reference. I couldn't see her 
face, for she was masked to the very chin; but there's a 
curious, tumor-like lump, as big as a hen's egg, just under 
her right shoulder-blade, and there's the scar of an acid 
bum on the back of her left hand that she'll carry to her 
grave. I shall know that scar if ever I see it again. And 
if by any chance I should run foul of a woman bearing one 
like it, and that woman should prove to have also a lump 

imder the right shoulder-blade Come along ! Let's 

get out and see if we can find one. 'Time flies,' as the an- 
archist said when he blew up the clock factory. Let's tod- 


They ''toddled" forthwith, but on a fruitless errand, as 
it proved. Nevertheless, they ''toddled" again the next 
day as hopefully as ever; and the next after that, and the 
next again, yet at the end of the fourth they were no nearer 
any clue to the whereabouts of Dutch Ella and Diamond 
Nick than they had been in the beginning. If, as Cleek 
sometimes fancied, they had not merely passed through 
England on their way to the Continent, but were still here, 
housed like hawks in a safe retreat from which they made 
predatory excursions under the very noses of the police, 
there was nothing to signaHze it. No amazing jewel theft, 
no affair of such importance as one engineered by them 
would be sure to be, had as yet been reported to the Yard; 
and for all clue there was to their doings or their whereabouts 
one might as well have set out to find last summer's roses 
or last winter's snow as hope to pick it up by any method as 
yet employed. 

Thus matters stood when on the morning of the fifth day 
Cleek elected to make Hampstead Heath and its environ- 
ments the scene of their operations, and at nine o'clock set 
forth in company with the superintendent to put them into 
force in that particular locality, with the result that by 
noontime they found themselves in the thick of as pretty 
a riddle as they had fallen foul of in many a day. 

It came about in this way : 

Turning out of St. Uldred's road into a quiet, tree-shaded 
avenue running parallel with the historic heath, somewhere 
in the neighbourhood of the Vale of Health district, they 
looked up to discover that there was but one building in 
the entire length of the thoroughfare — a large, imposing 
residence set back from the road proper, and encircled by a 
high stone wall with curiously wrought iron gates leading 
into the enclosure — and that before that building two 
copper-skinned, turbaned, fantastically clothed Hindus 
were doing sentry duty in a manner pecuHar unto them- 


selves — the one standing as motionless as a bronze irnag^ 
before the barred gateway, and the other pacing up and 
down before him like a clockwork toy that had been well 
wound up. 

''The Punjab for a ducat!" declared Cleek as he caught 
sight of them. ''And the insignia of the Ranee of Jhang, 
or I'm a Dutchman. I knew the old girl was over here for 
the coronation, to be sure, but I'd no idea of stumbhng over 
some of her attendants in this quarter, by Jip! Not put- 
ting up out here of late, is she, Mr. Narkom? " 

"No. She's still at Kensington. And what the dickens 
those johnnies are keeping guard over that place for beats 
us. Know it, don't you? It's the residence of Sir Mawson 
Leake — Leake & Leake, you know: Jewellers, Bond Street. 
Fine old place, isn't it? Inherited it from his father, as 

he did the business, and What's that? No, not a 

young man — not a young man by any means. Grown 

children — two sons. One by his first wife, and 

Hullo ! that's a rum trick, by James ! See that, did you, old 

"See what? The manner in which that clockwork John- 
nie stopped in his tracks and eyed us as we passed?" 

"No. The woman. All mufHed up to the eyes — and 
in weather like this. Just stepped out of tne house door, 
saw those two niggers, and then bolted back indoors as if 
the Old Boy was after her." 

"Caught sight of us, very Ukely. You know what high- 
class Brahmans are where Europeans are concerned. It 
will be the old Ranee herself, three to one, paying a morn- 
ing visit to the jeweller in reference to some of her amazing 
gems. That would explain the presence of the sentries. 
She travels nowhere without a guard." 

"To be sure," admitted the superintendent, and walked 
on, dropping the matter from his mind entirely. 

Ten minutes later, however, it was brought back to it in 


a rather startKng manner; for, upon rounding the end of the 
thoroughfare along which they had been walking, and com- 
ing abreast of an isolated building (which was clearly the 
stable of the house they had recently passed), they were 
surprised to hear the sound of a mufHed cry within, to catch 
a whiff of charcoal smoke as the door was flung wildly open. 
by the same muffled female Mr. Narkom had observed pre- 
viously, and something more than merely startled to have 
her rush at them the instant she caught sight of them, cry- 
ing out distractedly: 

*'I was afraid of it, I knew it! I knew that he would! 
Oh, help me, gentlemen — help me for the love of God! I 
can't Hft him. I can't drag him out — he is too heavy for 
me! My husband! In there! In there ! He'H die if you 
don't get him out ! ' ' 

They understood then, and for the first tune, what she 
was driving at, and rushed past her into the stable — into 
what had once been designed for a coachman's bedroom — 
to find an apartment Hterally reeking with the fumes that 
poured out from a charcoal furnace on the floor, and beside 
that the body of a man — inert, crumpled up, fast sinking 
into that hopeless state of unconsciousness which precedes 
asphyxiation by charcoal. 

In the winking of an eye Cleek had caught up the deadly 
little firebrick furnace and sent it crashing through the 
plugged-up window into the grounds behind, letting a current 
of pure air rush through the place; then, while Narkom, with 
one hand over his mouth and nostrils, and the other swing- 
ing a pair of handcuffs by their chain, was doing a like thing 
with another window in the front wall, he gathered up the 
semi-conscious man, swung him sackhke over his shoulder, 
carried him out into the roadway, and propped him up 
against the side of the stable, while he chafed his hands and 
smacked his cheeks and, between times, fanned him mth his 
}iatbrim and swore at him for a ''weak-backed, marrowless 


thing to call itself a man, and yet go in for the poltroon^s 
trick of suicide I" 

The woman was still there, squeezing her hands and sob- 
bing hysterically, but although she had not as yet uncovered 
her face, it did not need that to attest the fact that she was 
no Hindu, but white like the man she had spoken of as her 
husband, and at the very first words she uttered when she 
saw that he was beyond danger, both Cleek and Narkom 
knew them for what they were — Sir Mawson and Lady 

"Mawson, how could you!" she said reproachfully, going 
to him the very instant he was able to get on his feet, and 
folding him to her in an agonized embrace. "I suspected 
it when you left the house — but, oh, how could you? " 

"I don't know," he made answer, somewhat shame- 
facedly yet mth a note of agony in his voice that made one 
pity him in spite of all. "But it seemed too horrible a 
disgrace to be lived through. And now I shall have to face 
it! Oh, my God, Ada, it is too much to- ask a man to bear! 
They are there, on guard, those Hindus, protecting me and 
mine until the Ranee's steward comes to receive the Ladder 
of Light, as promised, at " 

" Sh-h!" she struck in warningly, remembering the pres- 
ence of the others, and clapping her hand over his mouth 
to stay any further admission; for she had heard Cleek re- 
peat after her husband — but with a soft significant whistle 
— "The Ladder of Light!" and supplement that with, 
"Well, I'm dashed!" and turned round on him instantly 
with a forced smile upon her Hps but the look of terror still 
lingering in her fast- winking eyes. 

"It is rude of me, gentlemen, to forget to thank you for 
your kind assistance, and I ask your forgiveness," she said. 
"I owe you many, many thanks and I am endeavouring t(? 
express them. But as this is merely a little family affair 
I am sure you will understand," 


It was a polite dismissal. Narkom pivoted his little fat 
body on his heel, and prepared to take it. Cleek didn't. 

"Your pardon, but the Ladder of Light can never be re- 
garded as a family affair in any English household whatso- 
ever," he said, blandly. *'I can give you its exact history 
if you wish it. It is a necklace said to have once been the 
property of the Queen of Sheba and worn by her at the 
court of King Solomon. It is made up of twelve magnificent 
steel-white diamonds, cut semi-square, and each weigh- 
ing twenty-eight and one half carats. They are joined to- 
gether by slender gold links fitting into minute holes pierced 
through the edge of each stone. It is valued at one million 
pounds sterling and is the property of the Ranee of Jhang^ 
who prizes it above all other of her marvellous and priceless 
jewels. She is not a pleasant old lady to cross, the Ranee. 
She would be a shrieking devil if anything were to happea* 
to that necklace, your ladyship." 

She had been slowly shrinking from him as the history 
of the Ladder of Light proceeded; now she leaned back 
against her husband, full of surprise and despairing terror, 
and stared and stared in a silence that was only broken by 
little fluttering breaths of alarm. 

"It is imcanny!" she managed to say at last. "You 
know of that? Of the necklace? You know even me? — 
us? — and yet I have not uncovered my face nor given you 
my name. Are you then gifted with clairvoyance, Mr. — • 
Mr. " 

" Cleek," h€ gave back, making her a polite bow. " Cleek 
is the name, Lady Leake. Cleek of Scotland Yard." 

"That man? Dear God! that amazing man?" she cried, 
her whole face lighting up, her drooping figure springing 
erect, revitalized. 

"At your ladyship's service," he replied. "We are out 
this morning — Superintendent Narkom and I — in quest 
of what is probably the most skilful and audacious pair of 


jewel thieves in the world — just the one particular pair 
in all the universe to whom a loot so valuable as the Ladder 
of Light would offer the strongest kind of an appeal. So, 
if by any chance, something has occurred which threatens 
the safety of that amazing necklace — and you and Sir 

Mawson are in a position to know the facts Com e ! 

Take me into your confidence, and — perhaps! Who 
knows? " 

Before he had fairly finished speaking, Lady Leake caught 
up his hand, and, holding it fast squeezed in both her own, 
looked up at him with bright, wet eyes. 

"It must have been heaven itself that sent you to us this 
moirning," she cried. "If any man in the world can help 
us, I beheve in my soul that you are the man. Mawson, 
you hear, dearest? It is Mr. Cleek. The wonderful Mr. 
Cleek. Why didn't we think of him before? Tell him, 
Mawson — tell him everything, my dear." 

Sir Mawson acted upon the suggestion instantly. 

"Mr. Cleek, I beg, I implore you to come to our assist- 
ance!" he exclaimed in a very transport of excitement. 
"Lady Leake is right. If any man can, you are he! You 
ask if anything has happened with regard to that accursed 
necklace and if I can give you any information on the sub- 
ject? To both questions, yes! It is gone! It is lost! It 
is stolen!" 

"What's that? Stolen? The Ladder of Light? Good 
heavens! When? Wliere? How?" 

* ^ Yesterday — from my keeping ! From my house ! And 
God have mercy on me, I have every reason to beheve that 
the thief is my eldest son!" 


IT WAS a full minute later and in all that minute's 
length no one had spoken, no one had made a single 

The shock, the shame, of such a confession, telling, as it 
did, why he had attempted to destroy himself, had crum- 
pled the man up, taken all the vitality out of him. He faced 
round and leaned his bent arm against the wall of the stable, 
hid his face in the crook of it, and Cleek, pitying him, let 
him have that minute all to himself. Then: 

'Xome," he said, very gently, going over to him and 
patting him on the shoulder. "Buck up! Buck upl 
There's nothing in all the world so deceptive as appearances, 

Sir Mawson ; perhaps, when I've heard the facts Well, 

haven't I told you that I am out for a pair of expert jewel 
thieves, and that that necklace is just the sort of thing 
they'd be likely to make play for? How do you know, 
then, that they didn't?" 

*'I wish I could believe that, I wish I could even hope 
it," he gave back miserably. ''But you don't know the 
facts, Mr. Cleek." 

''To be sure I don't; and they're what I'm after. Let's 
have them, please. To begin with, how came the Ladder 
of Light to be in your possession at all?" 

"It was brought to me yesterday — for repairing — by 
the Ranee's own major domo. Not a mere cice, Mr. Cleek, 
but the most trusted of all her henchmen. Three of the 
narrow gold Knks which hold the stones together had worn 
thin and needed strengthening. It was four o'clock in the 



afternoon when he arrived, and the Ranee, he said, had 
selected our house for the work on the recommendation of 
royalty. There was several hours' work on the thing — I 
saw that the instant I examined it. But I was appalled 
by the fearful respon^ibiUty of ha\dng a jewel of such fabu- 
lous value on the premises — with people constantly coming 
in and going out — and determined, therefore, to take it 
home and do the repairs m3^self. I informed the Ranee's 
major demo of that resolution, and demanded of him a guard 
of the Ranee's own attendants to accompany me on the 
journey and to keep watch over my house until he should 
come in person to receive the necklace to-day. 

"He accorded me this w^ilHngly; departed — still retain- 
ing possession of the jewel, for I would not have it left with 
me at any cost — returned with the guard an hour later, 
handed me the case containing the necklace, and I left for 
home a few minutes after five — and the Hindu guard with 
me. On arriving " 

"One moment, please," interposed Cleek. "Did you 
examine the case to see if the Ladder of Light was still there 
before you started?" 

"Yes, Mr. Cleek. I have no very great faith in Hindus 
at any time, so you may be sure I took that precaution the 
instant the man placed the case in my hands. The neck- 
lace was there. I even went further. Before leaving my 
place of business I submitted the stones to chemical test 
to be sure that no substitution had been made. They were 
absolutely genuine; so that there can be no shadow of 
doubt that it was the Ladder of Light itself I carried home 
with me. On arriving at my residence I stationed the two 
Hindu guards at the front gate, entered the house, and was 
upon the point of going immediately to my study to subject 
the stones to yet another chemical test — to make sure that 
no trickery had been practised upon me by the Hindus on 
the journey — when I was unexpectedly pounced upon in 


the main hallway by my son, Henry, who was in a greatly 
excited state and attempted to renew the subject of our 
unpleasant interview of the day before." 

Here Sir Mawson's voice grew curiously thick and un- 
steady. He paused a moment as if ashamed to go on, then 
stiffened himself and continued. 

^^Mr. Cleek," he said, agitatedly, '4t is necessary that I 
should tell you, at this point, something with regard to 
those who make up the members of my household." 

^' You needn't. I have already heard. Lady Leake is, I 
believe, your second wife, and you have two sons." 

*'No — three," he corrected. ''Henry, my eldest, who is 
twenty-four and is the only survivor of the children of my 
first and most unhappy marriage; Curzon, who is just 
entering his twenty-first year, and Bevis, who has not yet 
turned seven, and is, of course, still in the nursery. I may 
as well admit to you, Mr. Cleek, that my first marriage was 
a failure; that it was none of my own choosing, but was 
consummated in deference to the will and wishes of my 
parents. We were utterly unsuited to each other, my first 
wife and I, and it is, no doubt, only natural that the son 
she left me when death delivered us both from an irksome 
bondage should reflect in himself some of those points of 
difference which made our union a mistake. 

"Don't misunderstand me, however. He is very dear to 
me — dear, too, to his stepmother, who loves him as her 
own, and the one strong feature in his character is the love 
he gives her in return. Then, too, he is my first born, my 
heir, and no man fails to love that first child that ever 
called him father." 

''No man could fail to love this particular one at all 
events, Mr. Cleek," put in her ladyship. "Wild, reckless, 
extravagant — yes! But at heart, the dearest boy!" 

"Just so!" interposed Cleek. "But let us get on, please. 
So this ' dearest boy' had an unpleasant interview with you 


the day before yesterday, did he, Sir Mawson? What was 
it about?" 

"The usual thing — money. He is extravagant to the 
point of insanity. I've paid his debts until my patience is 
quite worn out, hoping against hope that he will reform. 
At that interview, however, he asked for a thing I would 
not hsten to — ;£^2oo to settle a gambhng debt at his club: 
to take up an I. O. U. that would get him blacklisted as a 
defaulter if it were not met. 'Then get blacklisted!' I 
said to him, 'if there's no other way to cut you off from the 
worthless lot you associate yourself with. You'll not get 
one farthing from me to settle any such disgraceful thing as 
a gambling debt, rest assured of that!" Then I walked 
out of the room and left him, and that was the last I saw 
of him until he poimced upon me in the hall yesterday when 
I was going to my study with the case containing the 
Ranee's necklace. 

"That was the subject he wanted to renew. He'd been 
to town, he said, and had had a talk with the man to whom 
he had given the I. O. U., 'and dad, if you'll only do it 
just this once — just this one last once! ' he was saying 
when I interrupted him. 'I've no time to Hsten now, and 
no inclination. I've important business to attend to,' I 
said, then waved him aside and went into the study and 
locked the door while I attended to the matter of applying 
the acid test to the diamonds for the second time. 

"Meanwhile, he had gone up to Lady Leake's boudoir 
to implore her to use her influence with me, and he was still 
there when, after the stones had again answered to the acid 
test, I carried the necklace up there (to leave it in her 
charge for the brief time it would take me to prepare the 
tools and materials for the work in hand) and told her all 
about it. But I didn't know that at the time, Mr. Cleek, 
for he was sitting in a deep, cushioned armchair at the far 
end of the room, and the tall back of that chair was turned 





•i.^ 1 ig|y_||gtaM 


L ' 



- ■ --MS.' 






Cleek hears that the fabulous " Ladder of Light" is back 
in London again 

Young Mawson overhears his parents discussing the problem of the 
lewel. " He is extravagant to the point of insanity," said Sir Mawson 


toward me. Indeed, I hadn't the faintest suspicion that 
there was anybody but Lady Leake and myself in the room 
until he got up suddenly and said, 'Dad, you aren't too busy 
to listen now! Won't you let me ask you what I was going 
to do downstairs? Won't you, dad? Please!' 

"Of course he had heard what I had said, Mr. Cleek — 
although I never gave a thought to that at the time — and 
as Lady Leake had, womanUke, taken the gorgeous necklace 
out of the case, held it up to her neck and was then viewing 
herself in her dressing mirror, it followed that he also saw. 
But how could I dream of there being anything in that to 
regret, and he a son of mine? It was only — afterward — ■ 

when it came back to my memory Good God ! it 

is too horrible to think of even now, much less to talk 

*' Steady, steady. Sir Mawson!" sounded Cleek's soothing 
voice. ' ' Brakes on ! Sidetrack your emotions if you can and 
stick to the mainline! Well, what followed?" 

*'I have no very clear recollection, Mr. Cleek, for just 
then Lady Leake chose to add her entreaties to his, and to 
ask me if I would permit her to draw her next quarter's pin 
money in advance and let her take up the I. O. U. for him. 
But I was so furious at the thought of his skulking in like a 
beggar and a cad, and trying to 'bleed' her, that I flew into 
a violent rage, ordered him out of the room instantly, and 
forbade his stepmother to lend or give him one farthing 
either then or at any time thereafter. 'There v/ill be no 
gambler's I. 0. U.'s taken up for you by anybody in this 
house,' I flung at him. 'If you are in debt, get out of it in 
your own way and as best you can!' 

"I think that even then I was conscious of a sense of 
gratification at the way he took that ultimatum, Mr. Cleek, 
for instead of whining like a whipped cur, he pulled himself 
up straight and strong, clicked his heels together, and said 
very quietly, 'All right, sir, I'll take you at your word. 


Thank you for past favours. Good-bye ! ' and then walked 
out of the room. That was the last I have seen or heard of 

"H'm! Leave the house, did he?" 

''Yes — but not then. That was a few minutes before 
seven. A servant saw him on the top landing coming out 
of his own room with something wrapped up in a parcel, 
after that. And another, who was busy cleaning up in the 
lower hall, saw him come down and go out at ten minutes 

''And in the meantime, the Ladder of Light had van- 

"Yes. After Henry had left the boudoir I had a few 
minutes' heated argiunent with Lady Leake; then, remem- 
bering the work I had in hand, I left the necklace in her 
charge and hurried away to rig up a temporary workshop. 
It was about twenty minutes past seven when I finished 
doing that, and went back to Lady Leake's boudoir to get 
the jewel. I found her in a state of the wildest excitement, 
flying about the room like an insane woman and searching 
everywhere. The necklace was gone ! Only for one single 
minute of time had it been out of her sight, yet in that 
minute it had vanished, utterly and completely, and there 
was not a trace of it to be found anywhere." 

"H'm! Just so! Case gone, too, Sir Mawson?" 

"No! That was still there, lying on her dressing-table, 
but it was empty." 

"I see. So, then, it could not have been that that was 
wrapped up in the parcel your son was seen carrying. Any- 
body in that room after Sir Mawson left you, your lady- 

"Not a living soul, Mr. Cleek." 

"Could no one have stolen it without your knowledge?" 

"That would be impossible. I locked the door the in- 
stant Sir Mawson left me." 


*'Ah, then, of course! Another question, please. Sir 
Mawson has spoken of there being *one single minute' when 
the necklace was not directly under your eyes. When was 

'^When I left the room, Mr. Cleek." 

*'Oho! Then you did leave it, eh?" 

*'Yes. It was thoughtless of me, of course; but I only 
ran down to the foot of the staircase, when I remembered, 
and ran back in a perfect panic. Still I had locked the 
door in going out even then and the key was in my hand. 
It was still locked when I returned, but in that one single 
minute the necklace had disappeared. I was gratifying my 
woman's vanity by holding it up to my throat and viewing 
myself in the glass just an instant before, and I remember 
perfectly, laying it down on the velvet lining of its open case 
at the time I recollected the matter which caused me to 
leave the room." 

*^May I ask what that matter was?" 

'^Yes. A service I had promised to perform for Miss 

''Miss Eastman? Who is she?" 

'' My son's fiancee. She and her father are visiting us at 
present. Curzon met and became engaged to Miss East- 
man on the occasion of her last visit to England, and this 
time her father is accompanying her." 

''Her last visit? Then the lady and her father are not 

"Oh, dear, no — Americans. They came over less than 
a week ago. Pardon? No, I do not at the moment recall 
the name of the vessel, Mr. Cleek, but whichever one it was 
it seems to have been a very ill-conditioned affair and gave 
them a very bad crossing, indeed. That is why I had to 
render Miss Eastnlan the service of which I spoke — the 
sudden recollection of which caused me to lay down the 
necklace and hurry from the room. I had forgotten all 


about it until I happened to see the roll of Knt on my dress- 

'^Lint, Lady Leake? What on earth had lint to do with 
the matter?" 

^'1 had bought it for Miss Eastman when I was in town 
this m_orning. She asked me to, as she had used her last 
clean bandage yesterday. She had a very bad fall on ship- 
board, Mr. Cleek, and injured her left hand severely!" 

Narkom made a curious sort of gulping sound, whipped 
out his handkerchief and began to dab his bald spot, and 
looked round at Cleek out of the tail of liis eye. But 
Cleek neither moved nor spoke nor made any sign — merely 
pushed his lower lip out over his upper one and stood frown- 
ing at the stable door. 

And here — just here — a strange and even startling 
thing occurred. With just one hoarse ''Toot-toot I" to 
give warning of its coming, a pubHc taxi swung round the 
curve of the road, jerked itself up to a sudden standstill 
within a rope's cast of the spot where the four were stand- 
ing, and unmediately there rang forth a rolhcking, happy 
youthful voice cr^dng out, as the owner of it stood up and 
touched an upright forefinger to his numbered cap, in jolly 
mimxicry of the Hanson cabman of other days: "Keb, sir? 
Keb, mum? Keb! Keb!" and hard on the heels of that 
flung out a laughing, ''Hullo, mater? Hullo, dad? you 
dear old Thunder Box! I say! 'How does this sort of thing 
get you?' as Katie Eastman says. Buttons all over me, 
like a blooming Bobby ! What? " 

And it needed no more than that to assure Cleek and 
Mr. Narkom that in the bright-eyed, bonny-faced, laughing 
young fellow who jumped down from the driver's seat at 
this, and stood up straight and strong, and displayed his 
taxicabman's livery unabashed and unashamed, they were 
looking upon Sir Mawson Leake's eldest son and — heir! 

"Henry!" The voice was Lady Leake's, and there was 


pain and surprise and joy and terror all jumbled up in it 
curiously, as she ran to him. "Henry! Is it really you?'''* 

" ' Sure tiling! ' — to quote Katie again. Just took a spin 
over to show myself off. Plenty of brass trimmings! 
What? I thought, dad, you'd Hke to be sure that I really 
am done with the clubs at last. Not because they black- 
listed me — for they didn't — but because — oh well, you 
know. No taxicabmen need apply — that sort of thing. 
I'll be invited to resign from every blessed one of them to- 
morrow, and there's not a chap connected with any one of 
'em who'd be seen taking a match from me to light his 
cigarette with after this. All the same, though, I go out 
of them with a clean slate, and that's all I cared about. I 
did get that two hundred after all, pater. Curzon and 
Katie raised it for me between them — out of their own priv- 
ate accounts, you know — and as driving a car is the only 
thing I really do understand, I'm earning the money to pay 
them back this way." 

''That's the stuff, by Jupiter ! That's the stuff ! " rapped 
out Cleek, impulsively. ''You ought to have known from 
the first. Sir Mawson, that they don't make thieves of this 
sort of material?" 

*' Thieves? What do you mean by thieves? And who 
the dickens are you, anyway? I say, dad, who's this 
Johnnie? What's he driving at? What does he mean by 
talking about thieves?" 

"The necklace — the Ranee's necklace! The Ladder of 
Light!" bleated Sir Mawson feebly. "It is gone! It is 
lost! It went when you went. There has been no trace 
of it since." Then he joined Lady Leake, and plucked at 
the boy's sleeve, and between them out came the whole 
miserable story. 

"And you think that I stole it? You dare to think 
that?" flung out his son, jerking back from him and brush- 
ing aside Lady Leake's solicitous hand. "Very well, then, 


think what you jolly well please ! I'm done with the lot of 

And after that — the Deluge ! Speaking, he turned on 
his heel and rushed back to his taxi, wrenched open its 
door, revealing what none of them had suspected before, 
because of the drawn curtains: that the vehicle was occupied 

— and sang out in a fine fury, ''Pull up the blinds, Curz. 
Come out, old chap. Come out, Major! Come out, Katie 

— all of you — at once! There isn't going to be any 'jolly 
lark,' any 'pleasant surprise,' any ^killing of the fatted calf.' 
This isn't a comedy — it's a tragedy! Hop out Hvely — 
the lot of you! I'm done with my father, and I've got to 
get back to my place in the ranks as fast as I can fly. I'll 
pay you back, Katie. I'll pay you back, Curz, old chap! 
Yes, by God! I will if I drive this thing night and day with- 
out sleeping!" 

Then came a sudden banging of the taxi's door, a hoot 
from the horn as he jumped back to his seat and sounded a 
warning note, and in the winking of an eye he was off and 
away, and there in the road stood a stout, pleasant-faced 
old gentleman, a youth with a budding moustache, and a 
bright-faced, fairylike httle lady of about eighteen, all three 
of whom were standing stock still and starmg after the van- 
ishing taxi in the blankest of blank amazement. Of a 
sudden, however: 

"My goodness, popper, I guess Curzon and I have sort 
of muffed it somehow!" the little lady said, forlornly. 

"I guess you have, honey — I guess you have. Any- 
how, something's gone bust, that's a sure thing! Let's go 
and ask Sir Mawson what it's all about." 

"Yes, let us by all means," put in the younger man. 
"Come on!" 

Mr. Narkom, who heard these things, drew closer to 
Cleek, looked up at him anxiously, and contrived to whisper 
an inquiry which fell only upon his ally's ears. 


"Found out anything, old chap?" 

"Yes. From their words it is clear that Sir Mawson has 
taken nobody in the house — even his son, Curzon — into 
his confidence regarding the lost necklace." 

"I don't mean that — I'm alluding to the others. 
Found out anything about them?^' 

"Yes, and a very important thing, too: They are not 
Diamond Nick and Dutch Ella. Not in the least like them, 
neither are they disguised. Also, Miss Eastman's injury 
is only a sprained wrist, it appears. You observe she does 
not even attempt to cover the back of her hand. I'm 
afraid, Mr. Narkom, you've been barking up the wrong 


BY THIS time the major, his daughter, and young Cur- 
zon Leake, full of deep and earnest soHcitude for the 
long-erring Henry, and fairly bristling with questions and 
entreaties, had crossed the intervening space and were at 
Sir Mawson's side; but as the details of what was said and 
done for the next ten minutes have no bearing upon the case 
in hand, they may well be omitted from these records. Suf- 
fice it then, that, on the plea of ''having some very impor- 
tant business with these gentlemen, which \\'ill not permxit 
of another moment's delay," and promising to ''discuss the 
other matter later on," Sir Mawson managed to get rid of 
them, with the story of the lost necklace still unconfessed, 
and was again free to return to the subject in hand. 

"Of course, I can understand your reluctance, with those 
Indian chaps about, to take anybody into your confidence 
regarding the loss of the jewel, Sir Mawson," said Cleek, as 
soon as the others were well out of hearing; "but sometimes 
a poHcy of silence is wise, and sometimes it is a mistake. 
For instance: if any of a man's servants should know of a 
circumstance which might have a bearing upon. a robbery 
they are not likely to mention it if they don't even know 
that a robbery has been committed. However, we shall 
know more about that after I've been over the ground and 
poked about a bit. So, if you and her ladyship will be so 
kind, I should like to have a look indoors, particularly in 
Lady Leake's boudoir, as soon as possible." 

Upon what trivial circumstances do great events some- 
times hinge 1 Speaking, he turned toward the curv^e of the 


road to go back to the guarded gates of the house which he 
had so recently passed, when Lady Leake's hand plucked 
nervously at his sleeve. 

''Not that way! Not for worlds, with those Hindus on 
the watch!" she exclaimed agitatedly. ^'Heaven knows 
what they might suspect, what word they might send to the 
Ranee's steward, if they saw us returning to the house with- 
out having seen us leave it. Come! there is another and a 
safer way. Through the grounds and round to the door of 
the music room, at the back of the building. Follow me." 

They followed forthwith, and in another moment were 
taking that "other way" with her, pushing thxrough a thick 
plantation, crossing a kitchen garden, cutting through an 
orchard, and walking rapidly along an arboured path, until 
they came at last to the final obstacle of all — a large rock 
garden — which barred their progress to the smooth, close- 
cHpped lawn at whose far end the house itself stood. This 
rock garden, it was plain from the course she was taking, it 
was Lady Leake's intention to skirt, but Cleek, noting that 
there was a path running through the middle of it, pointed 
out that fact. 

"One moment!" he said. "As time is of importance, 
would not this be the shorter and the quicker way?" 

"Yes," she gave back, without, however, stopping in her 
progress around the tall rocks which formed its boundary. 
*'But if we took it we should be sure to meet Bevis. That 
is his especial playground, you know, and if he were to see 
his father and me we shouldn't be able to get rid of him 
again. No! Don't misunderstand, Mr. Cleek. I am not 
one of those mothers who find their children a nuisance in 
their nursery stage. Bevis is the dearest little man! But 
he is so full of pranks, so full of questions, so full of life and 
high spirits — and I couldn't stand that this morning. Be- 
sides, he has no one to play with him to-day. This is Miss 
Miniver's half holiday. Pardon? Yes — his nursery gov- 


erness. She won't be back until three. I only hope he will 
stay in the rock garden and amuse himself with his pirates* 
cave until then." 

''His " 

"Pirates' cave. Miss Miniver took him to a moving- 
picture show one day. He saw one there and nothing would 
do him but his father must let him have one for himself ; so 
the gardeners made one for him in the rock garden and he 
amuses himself by going out on what he calls 'treasure 
raids' and carries his spoils in there." 

"His spoils, eh? H'm! I see! Pardon me, Lady Leake, 
but do you think it is possible that this affair we are on may 
be only a wild goose chase after all? In other words, that, 
not knowing the value of the Ranee's necklace, your Uttle 
son may have made that a part of his spoils and carried it 
off to his pirates' cave?" 

"No, Mr. Cleek, I do not. Such a thing is utterly impos- 
sible. For one thing, the boudoir door was locked, remem- 
ber; and, for another, Bevis had been bathed and put to bed 
before the necklace was lost. He could not have got up and 
left his room, as Miss Miniver sat with him until he fell 

"H'm!" commented Cleek. "So that's 'barking up the 
wrong tree' for a second time. Still, of course, the necklace 
couldn't have vanished of its own accord. Hum-m-m! 
Just so! Another question, your ladyship: You spoke of 
running down to the foot of the stairs with the Hnt for Miss 
Eastman and running back in a panic when you remembered 
the necklace. How, then, did you get the Hnt to Miss East- 
man, after all?" 

"I sent it to her with apologies for not being able to do 
the bandaging for her." 

" Sent it to her, your ladyship? By whom? " 

"Jennifer — one of the servants." 

"Ohol" said Cleek, in two different tones. "So then you 


did unlock the door of your boudoir for a second time, and 
somebody other than Sir Mawson and your stepson did see 
the inside of the room, eh?" 

"Your pardon, Mr. Cleek, but you are wrong in both 
surmises. Jennifer was the servant who was working in 
the lower hall at the time — the one who says he saw Henry 
leave the house at ten minutes past seven. The instant I 
reached the foot of the stairs and thought of the necklace, 
I called Jennifer to me, gave him the lint with orders to take 
it at once to Miss Eastman's maid with the message men- 
tioned, and then turned round and ran back to my boudoir 

'^H'm! I see. I suppose, your ladyship, it isn't pos- 
sible that this man Jennifer might, in going to carry that 
message But no! I recollect: the door of your bou- 
doir was locked. So even if he had managed to outstrip 
you by going up another staircase " 

''Oh, I see what you mean! " she declared, as they reached 
the edge of the lawn and set out across it. *' But, Mr. Cleek, 
such a thing would not bear even hinting at, so far as Jen- 
nifer is concerned. He is the soul of honesty, for one thing; 
and, for another, he couldn't have outstripped me, as you 
put it, had I returned at a snail's pace. He is very old, 
and near-sighted. There! look! That is he, over there, 
sweeping the leaves off the terrace. You can see for your- 
self how impossible it would be for him to run upstairs." 

Cleek did see. Looking in the direction indicated, he 
saw an elderly man employed as stated, whpse back was 
bowed, and whose limping gait betokened an injury which 
had left him hopelessly lame. 

*'His leg had to be amputated as the result of being run 
over by an omnibus in the streets of London," explained 
her ladyship, "and, in consequence, he wears a wooden one. 
He has been in the employ of the family for more than forty 
years. Originally he was a gardener, and, after his accident, 


Sir Mawson was for pensioning him off so that he could end 
his days in quiet and comfort. But he quite broke down 
at the thought of leaving the old place, and as he wouldn't 
listen to such a thing as being paid for doing nothing, we 
humoured his whim and let him stay on as a sort of handy 
man. I am sorry to say that Bevis, little rogue, takes ad- 
vantage of his inability to run, and plays no end of pranks 
upon him. But he adores the boy, and never complains." 
Cleek, who had been studying the man fixedly with his 
narrowed eyes — and remembering what had been said of 
Diamond Nick's skill at impersonation, the while they were 
crossing the lawn — ■ here twitched his head, as if casting off 

■ a thought which annoyed him, and turned a bland look upon 

, Lady Leake. 

''One last question, your ladyship," he said. "I think 
you said that Jennifer was cleaning the hall at the time your 
stepson left the house; and, as, presumably, you wouldn't 

[ overwork a crippled old chap like that, how happened it 

' that he was still at his labours at ten minutes past seven 
o 'clock in the evening? That's rather late to be cleaning 

, up a hall, isn't it? " 

"Yes, much too late," she acknowledged. "But it 
couldn't be helped in the present instance. The gasfitters 
didn't finish their work as early as we had hoped, and as 
he couldn't begin until they had finished, he was delayed 
in starting." 

"The gasfitters, eh? Oho! So you had those chaps in 
the house yesterday, did you?" 

"Yes. There had been an unpleasant leakage of gas in 
both the music room and the main hall, for two or three 
days, and as the men had to take down the fixtures to get 
to the seat of the trouble, Jennifer improved the opportun- 
ity to give the chandelier and the brackets a thorough clean- 
ing, since he couldn't of course start to clear up the mess the 
workmen made until after they had finished and gone. 


But — Mr. Cleek ! They couldn't have had anything to do 
with the affair, for they left the house at least ten minutes 

before the Ladder of Light came into it. So, naturally • 

This is the door of the music room, gentlemen. Come in, 

The invitation was accepted at once, and in another half 
minute Cleek and Mr. Narkom foimd themselves standing 
in a wonderful white-and-gold room, imder a huge crystal 
chandeHer of silver and cut glass, and looking out through an 
arched opening, hung with sulphur-coloured draperies, into 
a sort of baronial hall equipped with armour and tapestries, 
and broad enough to drive a coach through without danger 
to its contents. 

From this hall, as they discovered, when Lady Leake led 
them without delay toward the scene of the necklace's mys- 
terious vanishment, a broad, short flight of richly carpeted 
stairs led to a square landing, and thence another and a 
longer flight, striking off at right angles, communicated with 
the passage upon which her ladyship's boudoir opened. 

*'It was here that I stood, Mr. Cleek, when I recollected 
about the necklace as I called Jennifer to me," she ex- 
plained, pausing on the landing at the foot of this latter 
flight of stairs just long enough to let him note, over the 
broad rail of the banister, that the great hall was clearly 
visible below. *'He was there, just under you, drying the 
globes of the music-room chandeHer when I called to him. 
Now come this way, please, and you will see how impossible 
it is for any one to have entered and left the boudoir during 
my brief absence without my seeing or hearing." 

It was; for the door of the boudoir, which was entirely 
detached from the rest of the suite occupied by herself and 
her husband, was inmiediately opposite the head of the 
staircase and clearly visible from the landing at its foot. 

She unlocked this one soHtary door, and let them see that 
the only other means of possibly entering the room was by 


way of a large overhanging bay window overlooking the 
grounds. But this was a good twenty feet above the sur- 
face of the earth and there was not a vine nor a tree within 
yards and yards of it, and as the space beneath was so large 
and clear that no one could have manipulated a ladder with- 
out the certainty of discovery, Cleek saw at a glance that 
the window might be dismissed at once as a possible point 
of entry. 

Nor did anything else about the room offer a hint more 
promising. All that he saw was just what one might have 
expected to see in such a place under such circumstances as 

On the dressing-table, surrounded by a litter of silver and 
cut-glass toilet articles, lay the case which had once con- 
tained the famous necklace, wide open and empty. Over 
the back of a chair — as if it had been thrown there under 
the stress of haste and great excitement — hung a negligee 
of flowered white silk trimmed with cascades of rich lace, 
and across a sofa at the far end of the room, a dinner gown of 
gray satin was carefully spread out, with a pair of gray silk 
stockings and gray satin slippers lying beside it. 

"Everything is exactly as it w^as, Mr. Cleek, at the time 
the necklace disappeared," explained her ladyship, not- 
ing the manner in which his glances w^ent flickering about 
the room, skimming the surface of all things but setthng 
on none. '"'Everything, that is, but that neghgee there." 

"Wasn't that in the room, then? " 

"Oh, yes, but it wasn't on the chair; it was on me. I had 
come up to dress for dinner a short time before Henry made* 
his appearance — indeed, I had only just taken off my street 
costume and started to dress when he rapped at the door 
and implored me to let him com^e in and speak to me for a 
minute or two. 'For God's sake, mater!' was the way he 
put it, and as haste seemed to be of vital importance, I 
slipped on my negligee and let him in as quickly as I could. 


Afterward, when Sir Mawson came in with the wonderful 
necklace " 

She stopped abruptly, and her voice seemed to die away 
in her throat; and when she spoke again it was in a sort of 

"Mr. Cleek ! " she cried, " Mr. Cleek! What is it? What's 
the matter? Good heavens, Mawson, has the man gone 
out of his mind? " 

In the circumstances the question was an excusable one. 
A moment before, she had seen Cleek walk in the most 
casual manner to the chair where the lace-clouded neghgee 
hung, had seen him pick it up to look at the chair seat 
under it, and was collectedly proceeding with the account 
of the events of yesterday, when, without hint or warning, 
he suddenly yapped out a sound that was curiously like a 
dog that had mastered the trick of human laughter, flung 
the negligee from him, dropped on his knees, and was now 
careering round the room like a terrier endeavouring to 
pick up a lost scent — pushing aside tables, throwing over 
chairs, and yapping, yapping. 

"Cleek, old chap!" It was Narkom that spoke, and the 
hard, thick hanamering of his heart made his voice shake. 
"Good lud, man! in the name of all that's wonderful " 

"Let me alone!" he bit in, irritably. "Of all the asses! 
Of all the blind, mutton-headed idiots!" then laughed that 
curious, uncanny laugh again, scrambled to his feet and 
made a headlong bolt for the door. "Wait for me — all 
of you — in the music room," he threw back from the thres- 
hold. "Don't stir from it until I come. I want that fellow 
Jennifer! I want him at oncef^' 

And here, turning sharply on his heel with yet another 
yapping sound, he bolted across the passage, ran down the 
staircase like an escaping thief, and by the time the others 
could lock up the boudoir and get down to the music room, 
there wasn't a trace of him anywhere. 


IT WAS a full haK hour later, and Sir Mawson and Lady 
Leake and Mr. Maverick Narkom were in the throes of 
the most maddening suspense, when the door of the music 
room flashed open and flashed shut again, and Cleek stood 
before them once more — quite alone still, but with that 
curious crooked smile which to Narkom stood for so much, 
looping up the corner of his mouth and mutely foreshadow- 
ing the riddle's spectacular end. 

''Cleek, dear chap!" The superintendent's voice was 
sharp and thin with excitement. *' You've found out some- 
thing, then?" 

^'I hope, Mr. Narkom, I have found out everything," he 
rephed with a marked emphasis on the word hope. "But 
as we are told when in doubt or in difficulty to 'look above' 
for a way out, permit me to follow that advice before pro- 
ceeding any further with the subject." 

Here he stepped to the centre of the room, twitched back 
his head, and, with chin upslanted and eyes directed toward 
the ceiling, moved slowly roimd in a narrow circle for a 
moment or two. 

But of a sudden he came to a sharp standstill, rapped out 
a short, queer Httle laugh, and, altering these mysterious 
tactics, looked down and across the room at Sir Mawson 

"I think the Ranee did not look to the security of those 
slim gold Knks a day too soon. Sir Mawson," he said. "It 
is too much to ask a man to risk his whole fortune on the 
tenacity of a bit of age-worn wire as you have done, and if 



I were in your shoes I'd tell the old girl's major domo when 
he comes for the necklace, to get it repaired somewhere else 
— and be dashed to him." 

''Good! Wouldn't I, in a twinkling, if I could only lay 
hands on the wretched thing again. But I haven't it, as 
you know." 

''Quite true. But you are going to have it — presently. 
I know where it is!" 

"Mr. Cleek!" 

"Gently, gently, my friends. Don't go quite off your 
heads with excitement. I repeat, I know where it is. I 

have f oimd it and Mr. Narkom ! Look sharp ! A 

chair for Lady Leake — she's tottering. Steady, steady, 
your ladyship; it will only compHcate matters to lose a grip 
on yourself now; and you have kept up so brave a front all 
through, it would be a pity to break down at the end." 

"I am not breaking down. I am quite all right. Please 
go on, Mr. Cleek — please do. I can stand anything 
better than this. Are you sure you have found it? Are 
you sure?^^ 

"Absolutely. I have had a nice little talk with old 
Jennifer, and a very satisfactory visit to Master Bevis 

Leake's interesting 'pirates' cave' and Gently, 

gently. Sir Mawson; gently, all of you. Don't jump to 
conclusions too quickly. No, your ladyship, I did not find 
the necklace in that cave, and for the simple reason that it 
is not and never has been there — in short, neither your 
son Bevis nor the servant, Jennifer, has the least idea in the 
world where it is. I have, however, and if in return for 
handing it over to him. Sir Mawson will give me his promise 
to take that boy, Henry, back and give him another chance, 
he shall have it in his hands ten seconds afterward." 

" I promise ! I promise ! I promise ! " broke in Sir Maw- 
son, almost shouting in his excitement. "I give you my 
word, Mr. Cleek, I give you my solemn oath." 


f Right you are," said Cleek in reply. Then he twitched 
forward a chair, stepped on the seat of it, reached up into 
the midst of the chandeHer's ghttering cut-glass lustres, 
snapped something out from their sparkling festoons, and 
added serenely, " Favour for favour: there you are, then!'^ 
as he dropped the Ladder of Light into Sir Mawson's 

And all in a moment, what with Lady Leake laughing 
and crying at one and the same time, her liege lord acting 
pretty much as if he had suddenly gone off his head, and 
Mr. Maverick Narkom chiming in and asserting several 
times over that he'd be jiggered, there was the dickens and 
all to pay in the way of excitement. 

*'Up in the chandelier!" exclaimed Lady Leake when 
matters had settled down a bit. "Up there, where it 
might have remained unnoticed for months, so hke is it to 
the strings of lustres. But how? But when? Oh, Mr. 
Cleek, who in the world put it there? And why?" 

"Jennifer," he made answer. "No, not for any evil 
purpose, your ladyship. He doesn't know even yet that 
it was there, or that he ever in all his life held a thing so 
valuable in his hands. All that he does know in connec- 
tion with it is that while he was cleaning those lustres out 
there in the hallway yesterday afternoon between four and 
five o'clock your son Bevis, out on one of his 'treasure 
raids,' paid him a visit, and that long after, when the old 
fellow came to replace the lustres on the chandelier, he dis- 
covered that one string was missing. 

" 'I knowed the precious little rascal had took it, sir, of 
course,' was the way he put it in explaining the matter to 
me; 'and I felt sure I'd be certain to find it in his pirates' 
cave. But Lord bless you, it turned out as he hadn't took 
it there at all, as I found out a goodish bit afterward, when 
her ladyship comes down to the landing at the top of the 
first flight of stairs, calls me up to give me the lint for Miss 


Eastman, and then gives a jump and a cry, like she'd just 
recollected something, and runs back upstairs as fast as she 
could fly. For when I looks down, there was the missing 
string of lustres lying on the landing right where her lady- 
ship had been standing, and where he, little rascal, had 
went and hid it from me. So I picks it up and puts it back 
in its place on the chandeKer just as soon as I'd taken the 
lint to Miss Eastman like her ladyship told me.* 

*'In that, Lady Leake, lies the whole story of how it 
came to be where you saw me find it. Jennifer is still 
under the impression that what he picked up on that land- 
ing was nothing more than the string of twelve cut-glass 
lustres joined together by links of brass wire which is at 
this moment hanging among the treasures' in your little 
son's pirates' cave." 

*'0n the landing? L3dng on the landing, do you say, 
Mr. Cleek?" exclaimed her ladyship. ''But heavens 
above, how could the necklace ever have got thiere? No- 
body could by any possibility have entered the boudoir 
after I left it to run down to the landing with the Hnt. You 
saw for yourself how utterly impossible such a thing as that 
would be." 

''To be sure," he admitted. "It was the absolute cer- 
tainty that nobody in the world could have actually forced 
the key to the solution upon me. Since it was possible for 
only one solitary person to have entered and left that room 
since Sir Mawson placed the necklace in vour charge, 
clearly then that person was the one who carried it out. 
Therefore, there was but one conclusion, namely, that when 
your ladyship left that room the Ladder of Light left it 

with you: on your person, and Gently, gently, Lady 

Leake; don't get excited, I beg. I shall be able in a mo- 
ment to convince you that my reasoning upon that point 
was quite sound, and to back it up with actual proof. 

"If you will examine the necklace. Sir Mawson, you will 


see that it has not come through this adventure uninjured; 
in short, that one of the two sections of its clasp is missing, 
and the Hnk that once secured that section to the string of 
diamonds has parted in the middle. Perhaps a good deal 
which may have seemed to you sheer madness up to this 
point will be clearly explained when I tell you that when I 
Hfted Lady Leake's neghgee from that chair a w^hile ago I 
found this thing clinging to the lace of the right sleeve." 

"Good heavens above! Look, Ada, look! The missing 
section of the clasp." 

"Exactly," concurred Cleek. "And when you think of 
where I found it I fancy it will not be very difficult to reason 
out how the necklace came to be where Jennifer picked it 
up. On your own evidence, Lady Leake, you hastily laid 
it down on your dressing-table, when the sight of the lint 
bandage recalled to your mind your promise to Miss East- 
man, and from that moment it was never seen again. The 
natural inference then is so clear I think there can hardly 
be a doubt that when you reached over to pick up that 
bandage the lace of your sleeve caught on the clasp, became 
entangled, and that when you left the room you carried the 
Ladder of Light with you. The great weight of the neck- 
lace swinging free as you ran down the staircase would 
naturally tell upon that weak link, and no doubt when you 
leaned over the banister at the landing to call Jennifer, 
that was, so to speak, the last straw. The weak Hnk 
snapped, the necklace dropped away, and the thick carpet 
entirely muffled the sound of its fall. As for the rest " 

The loud jangling of the door bell cut in upon his words 
He pulled out his watch and looked at it. 

"That will be the Ranee's major domo, I fancy. Sir Maw- 
son,'^ he observed, "and with your kind permission Mr. 
Narkom and I will be going. We have, as I have already 
told you, a Httle matter of importance still to attend to in 
the interest of the Yard, and although I haven't the slight- 


est idea we shall be able to carry it to a satisfactory con- 
clusion for a very long time — if ever — we had better be 
about it. Pardon? Reward, your ladyship? Oh, but 
I've had that: Sir Mawson has given me his promise to 
let that bonny boy have another chance. That was all I 
asked, remember. There's good stuff in him, but he stands 
at the crossroads, and face to face with one of hfe's great 
crises. Now is the time when he needs a friend. Now is 
the time for his father to he a father; and opportunity 
counts for so much in the devil's gamble for souls. Get to 
him, daddy — get to him and stand by him — and you'll 
have given me the finest reward in the world." 

And here, making his adieus to Lady Leake, whose wet 
eyes followed him with something of reverence in them, and 
shaking heartily the hand Sir Mawson held out, he Hnked 
arms with Narkom, and together they passed out, leaving a 
great peace and a great joy behind them. 

''Gad, what an amazing beggar you are!" declared the 
superintendent, breaking silence suddenly as soon as they 
were at a safe distance from the house. ''You'll end your 
days in the workhouse, you know, if you continue this sort 
of tactics. Fancy chucking up a reward for the sake of a 
chap you never saw before, and who treated you hke a mere 
nobody. Why, man alive, you could have had almost any 
reward — a thousand pounds if you'd asked it — for finding 
a priceless thing like that." 

"I fancy I've helped to find something that is more price- 
less still, my friend, and it's cheap at the price." 

"But a thousand pounds, Cleek! a thousand pounds! 
God's truth, man, think what you could do with all that 
money — think what you could buy!" 

"To be sure; but think what you canH! Not one day of 
lost innocence, not one hour of spoilt youth! It isn't be- 
cause they have a natural tendency toward evil that all 
men go wrong. It is not what they possess but what they 


lack that's at the bottom of the downfall of four fifths of 
them. Given such ingredients as a young chap suffering 
under a sense of personal injury, a feehng that the world's 
against him, that he has neither a home nor a friend to 
stand by him in his hour of need, and the devil will whip up 
the mixture and manufacture a criminal in less than no 
time. It is easier to save him while he's worth the saving 
than it is to pull him up after he has gone down the Hne, 
Mr. Narkom, and if by refusing to accept so m^any pounds, 
shillings, and pence, a man can do the devil out of a favour- 
able opportunity Oh, well, let it go at that. Come 

on, please. We are still as far as ever from the 'game' we 
set out to bag, my friend; and as this district seems to be as^ 
unpromising in that respect as all the others — wher^ 


"I'M BOTHERED if I know," returned Narkom help- 

A lessly. ''Gad! I'm at my wits' end. We seem to be 

as far as ever from any clue to that devilish pair and unless 

you can suggest something " He finished the sentence 

by taking off his hat, and looking up at Cleek hopefully, 
and patting his bald spot with a handkerchief which 
diffused a more or less agreeable odour of the latest 
Parisian perfume. 

"H'm!" said Cleek, reflectively. "We might cross the 
Heath and have a look round Gospel Oak, if you like. It's 
a goodish bit of a walk and I've no idea that it will result 
in anything, I frankly admit, but it is one of the few places 
we have not tried, so we might have a go at that if you ap- 

"By James! yes. The very thing. There's always a 
chance, you know, so long as it's a district we've never done. 
Gospel Oak it is, then. And look here — I'll tell you what. 
You just stop here a bit and wait for me, old chap, while I 
nip back to the house and ask Sir Mawson's permission to 
use his telephone — to ring up the Yard as usual, you know, 
and tell them in what quarter we're operating, in case there 
should be reason to send anybody out to find me in a hurry. 
Back with you in no time and then we'll be off to Gospel 
Oak like a shot." 

"Right you are. I'll stop here under the trees and in- 
dulge in a few comforting whiffs while you are about it. 
Get along!" 

Narkom paused a moment to grip his cuff between finger 



tips and palm, and run his coat sleeve round the shiny surface 
of his '' topper," then shook out his handkerchief and re- 
turned it to his pocket, jerked down his waistcoat and gave 
it one or two sharp flicks with the backs of his nails, and 
before a second diffusion of scent had evaporated, or the 
whimsical tvvist it called to Cleek's Kps had entirely van- 
ished, the scene presented nothing more striking than an 
ordinary man leaning back against a tree and engaged in 
scratching a match on the side of an ordinary wooden match- 
box. The Yard's Gentleman had gone. 

It was full ten minutes later when he lurched into view 
again, coming down the garden path at top speed, with one 
hand on his hat's crown and the other holding the flapping 
skirts of his frock coat together, and Cleek could tell from 
the expression of his round, pink face that something of im- 
portance had occurred. 

It had — and he blurted it out in an outburst of joyous 
excitement the moment they again stood together. The 
search for Dutch Ella and Diamond Nick was at an end. 
The poKue of Paris had cabled news of their location and 
arrest that very morning in the French capital, and would 
hold them under lock and key until the necessary prelimi- 
naries were over, relative to their deportation as undesir- 
ables, and their return to Canada. 

''The news arrived less than an hour ago," he finished, 
"and that wideawake young beggar, Lennard, thought it 
was so important that I ought to know it as soon as possible, 
so he hopped on to the Hmousine and put off as fast as 
he could streak it. He's up here in this district now — this 
minute — hunting for us. Come on! let's go and find him. 
By James! it's a ripping end to the business — what?" 

''That depends," repHed Cleek without much enthusiasm. 
"Which limousine is Lennard using to-day? The new 
blue one? ' 

"Cinnamon, no! That won't be delivered until the day 


after to-morrow. So it will be the good old red one, of 
course. Will it matter? " 

''Come and see!" said Cleek, swinging out of the grounds 
into the public highway again, and walking fast. "At all 
events, an ounce of certainty is worth a pound of suspicion, 
and this little faux pas will decide the question. They are 
no fools, those Apaches; and Waldemar knows how to wait 
patiently for what he wants." 

"Waldemar? The Apaches? Good lud, man, what are 
you talking about? You are not worrying over that busi- 
ness again, I hope. Haven't I told you over and over again 
that we couldn't find one trace of them anywhere in Lon- 
don — that they cleared out bag and baggage after that 
fruitless trip to Yorkshire? The whole truth of the matter, 
to my way of thinking, is that they awoke then to the fact 
'*Jiat you had ' dropped ' to their being after you, and know- 
ing you weren't to be caught napping, gave it up as a bad 

"Or altered their tactics and set out to follow some one 

"Some one else? Good lud, don't talk rubbish. What 
good would following some one else do if they were after 

"Come and see," said Cleek again, and would say no 
more, but merely walked on faster than ever — up one 
thoroughfare and down another — flicking eager glances 
to right and to left in search of the red Hmousine. 

In the thick of the High Street they caught sight of it at 
last, tooKng about aimlessly, while Lennard kept constant 
watch on the crowd of shoppers that moved up and down 
the pavement. 

"Cut ahead and stop it and we shall see what we shall 
see, Mr. Narkom. I'll join you presently," said Cleek, 
and he stood watching while the superintendent forged 
ahead in the direction of the limousine; and continued watch- 


ing even after he saw him reach it and bring it to a halt, and 
stand at the kerb talking earnestly with Lennard. 

But of a sudden the old crooked smile looped up the 
■corner of his mouth; he stood at attention for a moment or 
two, breathing hard through his nostrils, and moving not at 
all until, abruptly starting into activity, he walked rapidly 
down the pavement and joined Narkom. 

"Well?" queried the superintendent, looking up at him 
■quizzically. ''Come to any decision, old chap?" 

''Yes — and so will you in a second. Don't turn — 
don't do anything hastily. Just look across the street, 
at the jeweller's window, opposite, and tell me what you 
think of it." 

Narkom's swift, sidelong glance travelled over the dis- 
tance like a gunshot, arrowed through the sm^all collection of 
persons gathered about the shop window inspecting the dis- 
play of trinkets, and every nerve in his body jumped. 

"Good God! Waldemar!" he said, under his breath. 

"Exactly. I told you he knew how to wait. Now look 
farther along the kerb on this side. The closed carriage 
waiting there. It was dawdhng along and keeping pace 
with him when I saw it first. The man on the box is a 
fellow named Serpice — an Apache. Chut! Be still, will 
you? — and look the other way. They will do me no harm 
— here. It isn't their game, and, besides, they daren't. 
It is too public, too dangerous. It will be done, when it 
is done, in the dark — when I'm alone, and none can see. 
And Waldemar will not be there. He will direct, but not 
participate. But it won't be to-day nor yet to-night, I 
promise you. I shall slip them this time if never again." 

The superintendent spoke, but the hard hammering of his 
heart made his voice scarcely audible. 

"How? "he asked. "How?" 

"Come and see!" said Cleek for yet a third time. Then 
with an abruptness and a swiftness that carried everything 


before it, he caught Narkom by the arm, swept him across 
the street, and without hint or warning tapped Waldemar 
upon the shoulder. 

^'Ah, bon jour. Monsieur le Comte," he said airily, as the 
Mauravanian swung round and looked at him, blanching 
a trifle in spite of himself. ''So you are back in England, 
it seems? Ah, well, we Kke you so much — tell his Maj- 
esty when next you report — that this time we shall try to 
keep you here." 

Taken thus by assault, the man had no words in which to 
answer, but merely wormed his way out of the gathering 
about him and, panic stricken, obliterated himself in the 
crowd of pedestrians teeming up and down the street. 

"You reckless devil!" wheezed Narkom as he was swept 
back to the limousine in the same cyclonic manner he had 
been swept away from it. ''You might have made the 
man savage enough to do something to you, even in spite 
of the publicity, by such a proceeding as that." 

"That is precisely what I had hoped to do, my friend, 
but you perceive he is no fool to be trapped into that. We 
should have had some excuse for arresting him if he had 
done a thing of that sort, some charge to prefer against him, 
whereas, as matters stand, there's not one we can bring for- 
ward that holds good in law or that we could prove if our 
lives depended upon it. You see now, I hope, Mr. Nar- 
kom, why you have seen nothing of him lately? " 

"No — why?" 

"You have not used the red limousine, and he has been 
lying low ready to follow that, iust as I suspected he would. 
If he couldn't trace where Cleek ^oes to meet the red li- 
mousine, clearly then the plan to be adopted must be to 
follow the red limousine and see where it goes to meet 
Cleck, and then to follow that much-wanted individual 
when he parts from you and makes his way home. That 
is the thing the fellow is after. To find out where I live 


and to 'get' me some night out there. But, my friend, 
* turn about is fair play' the world over, and having had his 
inning at hunting me, I'm going in for mine at hunting 
him. I'll get him; I'll trap him into something for which 
he can be turned over to the law — make no mistake about 

''My hat ! What do you mean to do? " 

''First and foremost, make my getaway out of the present 
little corner," he repHed, "and then rely upon your assist- 
ance in finding out where the beggar is located. We're 
not done with him even for to-day. He will follow — either 
he or Serpice: perhaps both — the instant Lennard starts 
off with us." 

"You are going back with us in the limousine, then?" 

"Yes — part of the way. Drive on, Lennard, until you 
can spot a plain-clothes man, then give him the signal to 
follow us. At the first station on the Tube or the Under- 
ground, pull up sharp and let me out. You, Mr. Narkom, 
alight with me and stand guard at the station entrance 
while I go down to the train. If either Waldemar or an 
Apache makes an attempt to follow, arrest him on the spot, 
on any charge you care to trump up — it doesn't matter 
so that it holds him until my train goes — and as soon as it 
has gone, call up your plain-clothes man, point out Serpice 
to him, and tell him to follow and to stick to the fellow until 
he meets Waldemar, if it takes a week to accompKsh it, and 
then to shadow his precious countship and find out where he 
lives. Tell him for me that there's a ten-pound note in it 
for him the moment he can tell me where Waldemar is 
located; and to stick to his man until he runs him down. 
Now, then, hop in, Mr. Narkom, and let's be off. The other 
chap will follow, be assured. All right, Lennard. Let her 


Lennard 'let her go' forthwith, and a quarter of an hour 
later saw the programme carried out in every particular, 


only that it was not Waldemar who made an attempt to 
follow when the limousine halted at the Tube station and 
Cleek jumped out and ran in (the count was far too shrewd 
for that) ; it was a rough-looking Frenchman who had just 
previously hopped out of a closed carriage driven by a fel- 
low countryman, only to be nabbed at the station doorway 
by Narkom, and turned over to the nearest constable on the 
charge of pocket picking. 

The charge, however, was so manifestly groundless that 
half a dozen persons stepped forward and entered protest; 
but the superintendent was so pig-headed that by the time 
he could be brought to reason, and the man was again at 
liberty to take his ticket and go down in the lift to the train, 
the platform was empty, the train gone, and Cleek already 
on his way. 

A swift, short flight under the earth's surface carried him 
to another station in quite another part of London; a 
swift, short walk thence landed him at his temporary lodg- 
ings in town, and four o'clock found him exchanging his 
workaday clothes for the regulation creased trousers and 
creaseless coat of masculine calhng costume, and getting 
ready to spend the rest of the day with her. 


THE sky was all aflame with the glory of one of late 
June's gorgeous sunsets when he came up over the 
long sweep of meadowland and saw her straying about 
and gathering wild flowers to fill the vases in the wee 
house's wee httle drawing-room, and singing to herself the 
while in a voice that was like honey — thin but very, very 
sweet — and at the sight something seemed to lay hold of 
his heart and quicken its beating until it interfered with his 
breathing, yet brought with it a curious sense of joy. 

*'Good afternoon, Mistress of the Linnets!" he called out 
to her as he advanced (for she had neither seen nor heard 
his coming) mth the big sheaf of roses he had brought held 
behind him and the bracken and kingcups smothering him 
in green and gold up to the very thighs. 

She turned at the sound, her face illumined, her soft 
eyes very bright — those wondrous eyes that had lit a 
man's way back from perdition and would light it onward 
and upw^ard to the end — and greeted him with a smile of 
happy welcome. 

"Oh, it is you at last," she said, looking at him as a 
woman looks at but one man ever. "Is this your idea of 
* spending the afternoon' with one, turning up when tea is 
over and twilight about to begin? Do you know, I am. a 
very busy young woman these days" — blushing rosily — 
"and might have spent a whole day in town shopping but 
that Dollops brought me word that I might look for you? 

But, of course No! I shan't say it. It might make 

you vain to hear that you had the power to spoil my day." 


**Not any vainer than you have made me by telKng me 
other things," he retorted with a laugh. "I am afraid I 
have spoiled a good many days for you in my time, Ailsa. 
But, please God, I shall make up for them all in the bright- 
ness of the ones that are to come. I couldn't help being 
late to-day — I'll tell you all about that presently — but 
may I offer something in atonement? Please, will you add 
these to your bouquet and forgive me? " 

^' Roses ! Such beauties ! How good of you ! Just smell ! 
How divine!" 

^'Meaning the flowers or their donor?" — quizzically. 
^' Or, no ! Don't elucidate. Leave me in blissful ignorance. 
You have hurt my vanity quite enough as it is. I was 
deeply mortified — cut to the quick, I may say, if that will 
express my sense of grovelling shame any clearer — when 
I arrived here and saw what you were doing. Please, 
mum" — touching his forelock and scraping his foot back- 
ward after the manner of a groom — "did I make such a 
bad job of my work in that garden that when you want a 
bouquet you have to come out here and gather wild flowers? 
I put fifty-eight standard roses on that terrace just under 
your bedroom window, and surely there must be a bloom 
or two that you could gather?" 

"As if I would cut one of them for anything in the 
world!" she gave back, indignantly. Then she laughed, 
and blushed and stepped back from his impetuous advance. 
"No — please! You fished for that so adroitly that you 
landed it before I thought. Be satisfied. Besides, Mrs, 
Condiment is at her window, and I want to preserve as much 
as possible of her rapidly depreciating estimate of me. She 
thinks me a very frivolous young person, 'to allow that 
young Mr. Hamilton to call so frequent, miss, and if you'll 
allow me to say it, at such unseemly hours. I don't think 
as dear Captain Burbage would quite approve of it if he 


*'Gad! that's rich. What a mimic you are. It was the 
dear old girl to the life. She hasn't an inkhng of the truth, 

^'Not one. She doesn't quite approve of you, either. 
^I hkes to see a gent more circumpec, miss, and a trifle more 
reserved when he's gettin' on his thirties. Muckin' about 
with a garden fork and such among a trumpery lot of roses, 
and racin' here, there, and everywhere over them medders 
after ferns and things, like a schoolboy on a holiday, aren't 
what I calls dignified deportment in full-grown men, and in 
my day they didn't use to do it!' Sometimes I am in 
mortal terror that she intends to give me notice and to leave 
me bag and baggage; for she is always sa}ing that she's 
'sure dear Captain Burbage couldn't have kno\\Ti what he 
was a-doing of, poor, innocent, kind-hearted gentleman — 
and him so much of a gent, too, and so wonderful quiet and 

" Poor old girl ! " said Cleek, laughing. ''What a shock to 
her if she knew the truth. And what on earth would you 
do if she were to chance to get a peep at Dollops? But 
then, of course, there's no fear of that — the young beg- 
gar's too careful. I told him never to come near the house 
when he carries any notes." 

''And he never does. Always leaves them under the 
stone in the path through the woods. I go there, of course, 
twice every day, and I never know that he has been about 
until I find one. I am alwa\^ glad to get them, but to- 
day's one made me very, very happy indeed." 

"Because I told you you might expect me?" 

"Yes. But not that alone. I think I cried a little and I 
know I went down on my knees — right there — out in 
those woods, when I read those splendid words, 'There 
is but one more debt to be paid. The "some day" of my 
hopes is near to me at last.' " 

Her voice died off. He uncovered his head, and a still- 


ness came that was not broken by any sound or any move- 
ment, until he felt her hand slip into his and remain there. 

^'Walk with me!" he said, closing his fingers around hers 
and holding them fast. "Walk with me always. My 
God! I love you so!'' 

"Always!" she made answer in her gentle voice; and with 
her hand shut tight in his, passed onward with him — over 
the green meadows and into the dim, still woods, and out 
again into the flower-filled fields beyond, where all the sky 
was golden after the fierce hues of the sunset had drained 
away into the tender gleam of twilight, and there was not 
one red ray left to cross the path of him. 

"You have led me this way from the first," he said, 
breaking silence suddenly. "Out of the glare of fire, 
through the dark, into peaceful fight. I had gone down to 
hell but for you — but that you stooped and hfted me. 
God!" — he threw back his head and looked upward, 
with his hat in his hand and the fight on his face — " God, 
forget me if ever I forget that. Amen!" he added, very 
quietly, very earnestly; then dropped his chin until it 
rested on his breast, and was very still for a long time. 

"Yes," he said, taking up the thread of conversation 
where it had been broken so long a time ago, "there is but 
one more debt to be cleared off: the value of the Princess 
Goroski's tiara. A thousand pounds will wipe that off — 
it was not a very expensive one — and I could have had 
that sum to-day if I had thought of myself alone. Mr. 
Narkom thinks me a fool. I wonder what you will think 
when you hear?" And forthwith he told her. 

"If you are again 'fishing', " she replied with a quizzical 
smile, "then again you are going to be successful. I think 
you a hero. Kiss me, please. I am very, very proud of 
you. And that was what made you late in coming, was 


''Not altogether that. I might have been earlier but 
that we ran foul of Waldemar and the Apaches again, and I 
had to lose time in shaking them off. But I ought not to 
have told you that. You will be getting nervous. It was 
a shock to Mr. Narkom. He was so sure they had given 
up the job and returned home." 

^'I, too, was sure. I should have thought that the rebel- 
lion would have compelled that, in Count Waldemar's 
case at least," she answered, gravely. ''And particularly in 
such a grave crisis as his country is now called upon to face. 
Have you seen to-day's papers? They are full of it. Count 
Irma and the revolutionists have piled victory on victory. 
They are now at the very gates of the capital; the royal 
army is disorganized, its forces going over in hordes to the 
insurgents; the king is in a very panic and preparing, it is 
reported, to fly before the city falls." 

"A judgment, Alburtus, a judgment!" Cleek cried with 
such vehemence that it startled her. "Your son drinks of 
the cup you prepared for Karma's. The same cup, the 
same result: dethronement, flight, exile in the world's 
wildernesses, and perhaps — death. Well done, Irma ! 
A judgment on you, Maura vania. You pay! You pay!'* 

"How wonderful you are — you seem to know every- 
thing!" declared Ailsa. "But in this at least you appear 
to be misinformed, dear. I have been reading the reports 
faithfully and it seems that death was not the end of all 
who shared in Queen Karma's exile and flight. Count 
Irma is telHng a tale which is calHng recruits to the stand- 
ard of the revolutionists hourly. The eldest son — the 
Crown Prince Maximilian — is still alive. The count 
swears to that; swears that he has seen him; that he knows 
where to find him at any moment. The special correspond- 
ent of the Times writes that everywhere the demand is for 
the Restoration, the battle cry of the insurgents 'Maxi- 
milian!' and the whole country ringing with it." 


''I can quite believe it/' he said, with one of his queer, 
crooked smiles. ''They are an excitable people, the Maura- 
vanians, but, unfortunately, a fickle one as well. It is 
up to-day and down to-morrow with them. At present 
the cry is for Maximillian; this time next month it may be 
for Irma and a republican form of government, and — 
MaximilKan may go hang for all they want of him. Still, 
if they maintain the present cry — and the House of Albur- 

tus falls — and the followers of Irma win But what's 

the use of bothering about it? Let us talk of things that 
have a personal interest for us, dear. Give me to-morrow, 
if you can. I shall have a whole day's freedom for the first 
time in wrecks. The water Hlies are in bloom in the upper 
reaches of the Thames and my soul is simply crying for the 
river's solitudes, the lilies, the silence, and you! I want 
you — all to myself • — up there, among God's things. Give 
me the day, if you can." 

She gave him not one but many, as it turned out; for that 
one day proved such a magic thing that she was only too 
willing to repeat it, and as the Yard had no especial need 
of him, and the plain-clothes man who had been set upon 
Waldemar's track had as yet nothing to report, it grew to 
be a regular habit with him to spend the long- days up in 
the river solitudes with Ailsa, picnicking among the swans, 
and to come home to Dollops at night tired, but very 

It went on hke this for more than ten days, uninterrupt- 
edly; but at length there came a time when an entry in his 
notebook warned him that there was something he could 
not put off any longer — something that must certainly be 
attended to to-morrow, in town, early — and he went to 
bed tliat night with the melancholy feehng that the next 
day could only be a half hoHday, not a whole one, and that 
his hours with her would be few. 

But when that to-morrow came he knew that even these 


were to be denied him; for the long-deferred call of the Yard 
had come, and Narkom, ringing him up at breakfast time, 
asked for an immediate meeting. 

*'In town, dear chap, as near to Liverpool Street and as 
early as you can possibly make it." 

''Well, I can't make it earlier than half -past ten. I've 
got a httle private business of my own to attend to, as it 
happens, Mr. Narkom," he repHed. "I'd put it off if I 
could, but I can't. To-day before noon is the last possible 
hour. But look here I I can meet you at half -past ten in 
Bishopsgate Street, between St. Ethelburga's Church and 
Bevis Narks, if that will do. Will, eh? All right. Be on 
the lookout for me there, then. What? The new blue 
limousine, eh? Right you are. I'm your man to the tick 
of the half hour. Good-bye ! " 

And he was, as it turned out. For the new blue limou- 
sine (a ghstening, spic-span sixty-horsepower machine, 
perfect in every detail) had no more than come to a stand- 
still at the kerb in the exact neighbourhood stated at the 
exact half hour agreed upon, when open whisked the door, 
and in jumped Cleek with the swiftness and agihty of a 


"/^^OOD morning, my friend. I hope I haven't taken 
^-J you too much by surprise," he said, as the Hmousine 
sprang into activity the instant he closed the door, and set- 
tled himself down beside the superintendent. 

^'Not more than usual, dear chap. But I shall never get 
quite used to some of your little tricks. Gad! You're the 
most abnormally prompt beggar that ever existed, I do be- 
lieve. You absolutely break all records." 

"Well, I certainly came within a hair's breadth of losing 
my reputation this morning, then," he answered cheerily, 
as he fumbled in his pockets for a match. "It was a hard 
pull to cover the distance and get through the business in 
time, I can tell you, with the brief margin I had. But 

fortunately Here ! Take charge of that, will you? 

And read it over while I'm getting a light." 

"That" was a long legal-looking envelope which he had 
whisked out of his pocket and tossed into Narkom's lap. 

"'Royal British Life Assurance Society,'" repeated he, 
reading off the single Hne printed on the upper left-hand 

comer of the envelope. "What the dickens I say, 

is it a policy?" 

"Aha!" assented Cleek, with his mouth full of smoke. 
"The medico who put me through my paces, some time ago, 
reported me sound in wind and limb, and warranted not to 
bite, shy, or kick over the traces, and I was duly ordered to 
turn up at the London office before noon on a given day to 
sign up (and pay down) and receive that interesting docu- 
ment, otherwise my application would be void, et cetera. 



This, as it happens, is the 'given day' in question; and as 
the office doesn't open for business before ten a. m., and 
there wasn't the least Kkehhood of my being able to get back 
to it before noon, when you were calling for me — ' there 
you have the whole thing in a nutshell,' as the old w^oman 
said when she poisoned the filberts." 

Meanwhile, Narkom had opened the envelope and 
glanced over the document it contained. He now sat up 
with a jerk and voiced a cry of amazement. 

"Good Lord, dehver us!" he exclaimed. ''In favour of 

''Yes," said Cleek. "He's a faithful Kttle monkey and — 
I've nothing else to leave him. There's always a chance, 
you know — with Margot's lot and Waldemar's. I shouldn't 
like to think of the boy being forced back into the streets 
if — an}^ thing should happen to me." 

"Well, I'll be What a man! What a man! Cleek, 

my dear, dear friend — my comrade — my pal " 

" Chuck it! Scotland Yard with the snufSes is enough to 
make the gods shriek, you dear old footler! Why, God 

bless your old soul, I Brakes on! Let's talk about 

the new hmousine. She's a beauty, isn't she? Locker, 

mirror: just like the old red one, and Hello! I say, 

you are taking me into the country, I perceive; we've left 
the town behind us." 

"Yes; we're bound for Darsham." 

"Darsham? That's in Suffolk, isn't it? And about 
ninety-five miles from Liverpool Street Station, as the crow 
flies. So our little business to-day is to be an out-of-town 
affair, eh? Well, let's have it. What's the case? Burg- 

"No — murder. Happened last night. Got the news 
over the telephone this morning. Nearly bowled me over 
when I heard it, by James ! for I saw the man alive — in 
town — only the day before yesterday. It's a murder of a 


peculiarly cunning and cleverly contrived character, Cleek, 
with no apparent motive, and absolutely no clue as to what 
means the assassin used to Idll his victim, nor how he man- 
aged to get in and out of the place in which the crime was 
committed. There isn't the slightest mark on the body. 
The man was not shot, not stabbed, not poisoned, nor did 
he die from natural causes. There is no trace of a strug- 
gle, yet the victim's face sh6ws that he died in great agony, 
and was beyond all question the object of a murderous 

*'Hum-m!" said Cleek, stroking his chin. "Sounds in- 
teresting, at all events. Let's have the facts of the case, 
please. But first, who was the victim? Anybody of im- 

"Of very great importance — in the financial world," 
replied Narkom. "He is — or, rather, was — an American 
multi-millionaire; inventor, to speak by the card, of nu- 
merous electrical devices which brought him wealth beyond 
the dreams of avarice, and carried his fame all over the 
civilized world. You will, no doubt, have heard of him. 
His name is Jefferson P. Drake." 

"Oho!" said Cleek, arching his eyebrows. "That man, 
eh? Oh, yes, I've heard of him often enough — very nearly 
everybody in England has by this time. Chap who con- 
ceived the idea of bettering the conditions of the poor by 
erecting art galleries that were to be filled and supported 
out of the rates and, more or less modestly, to be known by 
the donor's name. That's the man, isn't it? " 

"Yes, that's the man." 

"Just so. Stop a bit! Let's brush up my memory a 
trifle. Of English extraction, wasn't he? And, having made 
his money in his own native country, came to that of his 
father to spend it? Had social aspirations, too, I believe; 
and, while rather vulgar in his habits and tastes, was ex- 
ceedingly warm-hearted — indeed, actually lovable — and 


made up for his own lack of education by spending barrels 
of money upon that of his son. Came to England some- 
thing more than a year ago, if I remember rightty; bought 
a fine old place down in Suffolk, and proceeded forthwith 
to modernize it after the most approved American ideas — 
steam heat, electric lights, a refrigerating plant for the pur- 
pose of supplying the ice and the creams and the frozen 
sweets so necessary to the American palate; all that sort of 
thing, and set out forthwith to establish himself as a sump- 
tuous entertainer on the very largest possible scale. That's 
the ' lay of the land,' isn't it? " 

''Yes, that's it precisely. The estate he purchased was 
Heatherington Hall, formerly Lord Fallowfield's place. The 
entail was broken ages ago, but no Fallowfield ever at- 
tempted to part with the place until his present lordship's 
time. And although he has but one child, a daughter, I 
don't suppose that he would have been tempted to do so, 
either, but that he was badly crippled — alm^ost ruined, in 
fact — last year by unlucky speculations in the stock 
market, with the result that it was either sell out to Jefferson 
P. Drake or be sold out by his creditors. Naturally, he chose 
the former course. That it turned out to be a most excel- 
lent thing for him you will understand when I tell you that 
Drake conceived an almost violent liking for him and his 
daughter. Lady Marjorie Wynde, and not only insisted 
upon their remaining at Heatherington Hall as his guests 
in perpetuity, but designed eventually to bring the prop- 
erty back into the possession of the original 'Une' by a 
marriage between Lady Marjorie and his son." 

''Effective if not very original," commented Cleek, with 
one of his curious one-sided smiles. "And how did the par- 
ties most concerned view this promising httle plan? Were 
they agreeable to the arrangement?" 

"Not they. As a matter of fact, both have what you 
may call a 'heart interest' elsewhere. Lady Marjorie, who. 


although she is somewhat of a 'Yes, papa,' and 'Please, 
papa,' young lady, and could, no doubt, be induced to sacri- 
fice herself for the family good, is, it appears, engaged to a 
young lieutenant who will one day come in for money, but 
hasn't more than enough to pay his mess bills at present, I 
beheve. As for young Jim Drake — why, matters were 
even worse with him. It turns out that he'd found the girl 
he wanted before he left the States, and it took him just 
about twenty seconds to make his father understand that 
he'd be shot, hanged, drawn, quartered, or even reduced to 
mincemeat, before he'd give up that girl or marry any other, 
at any time or at any cost, from now to the Judgment Day." 

''Bravo!" said Cleek, slapping his palms together. 
"That's the spirit. That's the boy for my money, Mr. 
Narkom! Get a good woman and stick to her, through 
thick and thin, at all hazards and at any cost. The jockey 
who 'swaps horses' in the middle of a race never yet came 
first under the wire nor won a thing worth having. Well, 
w^hat was the result of this plain speaking on the young 
man's part? Pleasant or unpleasant? " 

"Oh, decidedly unpleasant. The father flew into a rage, 
swore by all that was holy, and by a great deal that w'asn't, 
that he'd cut him off 'without one red cent,' whatever that 
may mean, if he ever married that particular girl; and as 
that particular girl — who is as poor as Job's turkey, by the 
way — happened by sheer perversity of fortune to have 
landed in England that very day, in company with an emi- 
nent Kterary person whose secretary she had been for some 
two or three years past, away marched the son, took out a 
special license, and married her on the spot." 

"Well done, independence! I like that bo}^ more than 
ever, Mr. Narkom. What followed? Did the father relent, 
or did he invite the pair of them to clear out and hoe 
their own row in future? " 

"He did neither; he simply ignored their existence. 


Young Drake brought his wife down to Suffolk and took 
rooms at a village inn, and then set out to interview his 
father. When he arrived at the Hall he was told by the 
lodgekeeper that strangers weren't admitted, and, on his 
asking to have his name sent in, was informed that the 
lodgekeeper had 'never heard of no sich person as Mr. James 
Drake — that there wasn't none, and that the master said 
there never had been, neither' — and promptly double- 
locked the gates. What young James Drake did after that 
it appears that nobody knows, for nobody saw him again 
until this morning; and it was only yesterday, I must tell 
you, that he made that unsuccessful attempt to get into 
the place to see his father. Be says, however, that he spent 
the time in going over to Ipswich and back in the hope of 
seeing a friend there to whom he might apply for work. 
He says, too, that when he got there he found that that 
friend — an American acquaintance — had given up his rooms 
the day before, and rushed off to Italy in answer to a 
cable from his sister; or so, at least, the landlady told him.'^ 

"Which, of course, the landlady can be relied upon to 
corroborate if there is any question regarding the matter? 
Is there?" 

"Well, he seems to think that there may be. He's the 
cHent, you must know. It was he that gave me the details 
over the telephone, and asked me to put you on the case. 
As he says himself, it's easy enough to prove about his hav- 
ing gone to Ipswich to see his friend, but it isn't so easy to 
prove about his coming back in the manner he did. It 
seems he was too late for any return train, that he hadn't 
money enough left in the world to waste any by taking a 
private conveyance, so he walked back; and that, as it's a 
goodish stretch of country, and he didn't know the way, and 
couldn't at night find anybody to ask, he lost himself more 
than once, with the consequence that it was daylight when 
he got back to the inn, where his frightened wife sat awaiting 


him, never having gone to bed nor closed an eye all night, 
poor girl, fearing that some accident had befallen him. 
But, be that as it may, Cleek, during those hours he was- 
absent his father was mysteriously murdered in a round box 
of a room in which he had locked himself, and to which, 
owing to structural arrangements, it would seem impossible 
for anything to have entered; and, as young Drake rightly 
says, the worst of it is that the murder followed so close 
upon the heels of his quarrel and promised disinheritance, 
that his father had no time to alter the will which left him' 
sole heir to everything; so that possibly people will talk." 

''Undoubtedly," agreed Cleek. "And yet you said there 
was no motive and absolutely no clue. M' yes! I wonder 
if I shall like this independent young gentleman quite so 
well after I have seen him." 

"Oh, my dear fellow! Good heavens, man, you can't 
possibly think of suspecting him. Remember, it is he him- 
self who brings the case — that the Yard would never have 
had anything to do with it but for him." 

"Quite so. But the local constabulary would; and the 
simplest way to bhnd a jackass is to throw dust in his eyes. 
They are natural born actors, the Americans; they are good 
schemers and fine planners. Their native game is 'bluff,'" 
and they are very, very careful in the matter of detail." 

Then he pinched up his chin and sat silent for a moment, 
watching the green fields and the pleasant farmlands as the 
limousine went pelting steadily on. 


''QUPPOSE, now, that you have succeeded in putting the 
^ cart before the horse, Mr. Narkom, " Cleek said sud- 
denly, "you proceed to give me, not the ramifications of the 
case, but the case itself. You have repeatedly spoken of 
the murder having taken place in som.e place which is dif- 
ficult of access and under most mystifying circumstances. 
Now, if you don't mind, I should Hke to hear what those 
circumstances are." 

"All right, old chap, I'll give you the details as briefly 
as possible. In the first place, you must know that Heath- 
erington Hall is a very ancient place, dating back, indeed, 
to those pleasant times when a nobleman's home had to be 
something of a fortress as well, if he didn't want to wake up 
some fine morning and find his place 'sacked,' his roof burnt 
over his head, and himself and his lady either held for ran- 
som or freed from any possibihty of having 'headaches' 
thereafter. Now, a round tower with only one door by 
which to enter, and no windows other than narrow slits, 
through which the bowmen could discharge their shafts at 
an attacking party without exposing themselves to the 
dangers of a return fire, was the usual means of defence 
adopted — you'll see dozens of them in Suffolk, dear chap, 
but whether for reasons of economy or merely to carry out 
some theory of his own, the first lord of Heatherington Hall 
did not stick to the general plan. 

"In brief, instead of building a tall tower rising from the 
ground itself, he chose to erect upon the roof of the west 
wing of the building a lower but more commodious one 



than was customary. That is to say, that while his tower 
was less than half the height of any other in the country, its 
circumference was twice as great, and, by reason of the 
double supply of bowman's slits, equally as effective in 
withstanding a siege; and, indeed, doubly difficult to as- 
sault, as before an invading force could get to the door of 
the place it would have to fight its way up through the 
main building to reach the level of it. 

*'Now, owing to the peculiarity of its construction — it 
is not more than eighteen feet high — the fact that it con- 
tained but one circular room, and all those bowman shts 
in the walls of it, this unusual 'tower' gained an equally 
unusual name for itself, and became known everywhere as 
the 'Stone Drum of Heatherington,' and is even mentioned 
by that name in the Inquisitio Eliensis of the ''Domesday 
Book," which, as you doubtless know, is the particular 
volume of that remarkable work which records the survey^ 
et cetera, of the counties of Cambridge, Hertford, Essex, 
Norfolk, Suffolk, and Huntingdon." 

"I see," said Cleek, with an amused twinkle in his eye. 
"You are getting on, Mr. Narkom. We shall have you 
lecturing on archaeology one of these fine days. But to 
return to our mutton — or, rather, our stone drum — was it 
in that place, then, that the murder was committed?" 

"Yes. It is one of the few, very few, parts of the build- 
ing to which Mr. Jefferson P. Drake did nothing in the way 
of modernizing, and added nothing in the way of ' improve- 
ments.' That, probably, was because, as it stood, it offered 
him a quiet, secluded, and exclusive retreat for the carry- 
ing on of his experiments; for wealth had brought with it 
no inclination to retire, and he remained to the last in the 
lists of the world's active forces. As a general thing, he 
did not do much in the way of burning the midnight oil, 
but conducted most of his experiments in the daytime. 
But last night was an exception. It may be that the news 


of his son's appeal to the lodgekeeper that afternoon had 
upset him, for he was restless and preoccupied all the even- 
ing, Lord Fallowfield says — or, at least, so young Drake 
reports Mm as having said — and instead of retiring with 
the rest of the house party when bedtime came and his 
Japanese valet carried up his customary carafe of ice- 
water " 

''Oh, he has a Japanese valet, has he? But, of course, 
in these days no American gentleman with any pretence to 
distinction whatsoever would be without one. Go on, 
please. His Japanese valet carried up the ice-water, and 
— then what?" 

''Then he suddenly announced his intention of going into 
the Stone Drum and working for a few hours. Lord Fal- 
lowfield, it appears, tried his best to dissuade him, but to 
no purpose." 

' ' Why did he do that? Or don't you know? " 

"Yes. I asked that very question myself. I was told 
that it was because his lordship saw very plainly that he 
was labouring under strong mental excitement, and he 
thought that rest would be the best thing for him in the 
circumstances. Then, too, his lordship and he are warmly 
attached to each other. In fact, the earl was as fond of him 
as if he had been a brother. As well he ought to be, by 
James! when you recollect that before he got the idea into 
his head of marrying his son to Lady Marjorie he added a 
codicil to his will bequeathing the place to Lord Fallow^field, 
together with all the acres and acres of land he had added 
to it, and all the art treasures he had collected, absolutely 
free from death duties." 

"Oho!" said Cleek, then smiled and pinched his chin 
and said no more. 

"Well, it appears that when his lordship found that he 
couldn't make the stubborn old Johnnie change his mind, he 
-accompanied him to the Stone Drum, together with the 


valet, to see that everything was as it should be, and that 
nothing was wanting that might tend to the comfort and 
convenience of a night worker. When there was nothing 
more that could be done, the valet was dismissed, his lord- 
ship said good-night to his friend and left him there alone, 
hearing, as he passed along the railed walk over the roof oi 
the wing to the building proper ( a matter of some twenty- 
odd feet) the sound of the bolt being shot, the bar put on, 
and the key being turned as Mr. Drake locked himself in. 

''What happened from that moment, Cleek, nobody 
knows. At seven o'clock this morning the valet, going to 
his master's room with his shaving- water, found that he had 
never gone to bed at all, and, on hastening to the Stone 
Drum, found that a light was still burning within and 
faintly illuminating the bowman's slits; but although he 
knocked on the door and called again and again to his mas- 
ter, he could get no answer. Alarmed, he aroused the entire 
household; but despite the fact that a dozen persons en- 
deavoured to get word from the man withm, not so much as 
a whisper rewarded them. The bolt was still 'shot,' the 
bar still on, the key still turned on the inner side of the door, 
so they could force no entry to the place; and it was never 
until the village blacksmith had been called in and his 
sledge had battered down the age-weakened masonry in 
which that door was set that any man knew for certain, 
what that burning light and that unbroken silence por- 
tended. When, however, they finally got into the place 
there lay the once famous inventor at full length on the 
oaken floor close to the barred door, as dead as George 
Washington, and with never a sign of what killed him either 
on the body or in any part of the place. Yet the first look 
at his distorted features was sufficient to prove that he had 
died in agony, and the position of the corpse showed clearly 
that when the end came he was endeavouring to get to the 


''Heart failure, possibly," said Cleek. 

"Not a hope of it," replied Narkom. ''A doctor was 
sent for immediately; fortunately one of the most famous 
surgeons in England happened to be in the neighbourhood 
at the time — called down from town to perform an opera- 
tion. He is wilHng, so young Mr. Drake tells me, to stake 
his professional reputation that the man's heart was as 
sound as a guinea; that he had not imbibed one drop of any- 
thing poisonous; that he had not been asphyxiated, as, of 
course, he couldn't have been, for the bo^vman's slits in the 
wall gave free ventilation to the place, if nothing more; that 
he had not been shot, stabbed, or bludgeoned, but, never- 
theless, he had died by violence, and that violence was not, 
and could not be, attributed to suicide, for there was every- 
thing to prove to the contrary. In short, that whatever 
had attacked him had done so imexpectedly and while he 
was busy at his work-table, for there was the chair lying on 
its back before it, just as it had fallen over when he jumped 
up from his seat, and there on the 'working plan' he was 
drawing up was the pen lying on a blob of India ink, just as 
it had dropped from his hand when he was stricken. Some 
murderous force had entered that room, and passed out of 
it again, leaving the door barred, bolted, and locked upon 
the inside. Some weapon had been used, and yet no weapon 
was there and no trace upon the body to indicate what its 
character might be. Indeed, everything in the room was 
precisely as it had been when Lord Fallowfield walked out 
last night and left him, beyond the fact of the overturned 
chair and a Httle puddle of clear water lying about a yard 
or so from the work-table and, owing to the waxing and 
poHshing, not yet absorbed by the wood of the floor. As 
no one could account for the presence of that, and as it was 
the only thing there which might offer a possible clue to the 
mystery, the doctor took a small sample of that water and 
analyzed it. It was simply plain, everyday, common, or 


garden pure water, and nothing more, without the slightest 
trace of any foreign matter or of any poisonous substance in 
it whatsoever. There, old chap, that's the * case' — that's 
the little riddle you're asked to come down and solve. What 
do you make of it, eh? " 

^'Tell you better when I've seen Mr. James Drake and 
Lord Fallowfield and — the doctor," said Cleek, and would 
say no more than that for the present. 


IT WAS somewhere in the neighbourhood of half-past 
three when the opportunity to interview those three 
persons was finally vouchsafed him; and it may be re- 
corded at once that the meeting did some violence to his 
emotions. In short, he found Mr. James Drake (far from 
being the frank-faced, impulsive, lovable young pepper-pot 
which his actions and words would seem to stand sponsor 
for) a rather retiring young man of the "pale and studious" 
order, absolutely lacking in personal magnetism, and about 
the last person in the world one would expect to do the 
''all for love" business of the average hero in the manner he 
had done. On the other hand, he found the Earl of Fallow- 
field an exceedingly frank, pleasant-mannered, rather boy- 
ish-looking gentleman, whose many attractions rendered it 
easy to understand why the late Mr. Jefferson P. Drake had 
conceived such a warm affection for him, and was at such 
pains to have him ever by his side. It seemed, indeed, dif- 
ficult to believe that he could possibly be the father of Lady 
Marjorie Wynde, for his manner and appearance were so 
youthful as to make him appear to be nothing closer than 
an elder brother. The doctor — that eminent Harley Street 
light, Mr. John Strangeways Hague — he found to be full of 
Harley Street manners and Harley Street ideas, eminently 
poHte, eminently cold, and about as pleased to meet a detec- 
tive police officer as he would be to find an organ-grinder 
sitting on his doorstep. 

"Have you come to any conclusions as to the means of 
death, Doctor?" asked Cleek after he had been shown into 



the Stone Drum, where the body of the dead man still lay 
and where the local coroner and the local J. P. were con- 
ducting a sort of preliminary examination prior to the 
regulation inquest, which must, of course, follow. ^'The 
general appearance would suggest asphyxia, if asphyxia 
were possible/' 

"Which it is not," volunteered Doctor Hague, with the 
geniality of a snowball. "You have probably observed 
that the many slits in the wall permit of free ventilation; 
and asphyxia with free ventilation is an impossibility." 

"Quite so," agreed Cleek placidly. "But if by any 
chance those slits could have been closed from the outside 
— I observe that at some period and for some purpose Mr. 
Drake has made use of a charcoal furnace" — indicating it 
by a wave of the hand — "and apparently with no other 
vent to carry off the fumes than that supplied by the 
sHts. Now if they were closed and the charcoal left 
burning, the result would be an atmosphere charged 
with carbon monoxide gas, and a little more than one per 
cent, of that in the air of a room deprived of ventilation 
would, in a short time, prove fatal to any person breathing 
that air." 

The doctor twitched round an inquiring eye, and looked 
him over from head to foot. 

"Yes," he said, remembering that, after all, there were 
Board Schools, and even the humblest might sometimes 
learn, parrot-like, to repeat the "things that are in books." 
"But we happen to know that the slits were not closed and 
that neither carbon oxide nor carbon monoxide was the 
cause of death." 

"You have taken samples of the blood, of course, to 
establish that fact beyond question, as one could so readily 
do? " ventured Cleek suavely. "The test for carbon monox- 
ide is so simple and so very certain that error is impossible. 
Il: combines so tensely, if one may put it that way, with 


the blood, that the colouring of the red corpuscles is utterly 
overcome and destroyed." 

*'My good sir, those are elementary facts of which I do 
not stand in need of a reminder." 

^' Quite so, quite so. But in my profession, Doctor, one 
stands in constant need of 'reminders.' A speck, a spot, a 

pin-prick — each and all are significant, and But is 

this not a slight abrasion on the temple here? " bending over 
and, with his glass, examining a minute reddish speck upon 
the dead man's face. ''Hum-m-m! I see, I see! Have 
you investigated this thing. Doctor? It is interesting." 

*'I fail to see the. point of interest, then," replied Doctor 
Hague, bending over and examining the spot. ''The skin is 
scarcely more than abraded — e\idently by the finger nail 
scratching off the head of some infinitesimal pustiSle." 

"Possibly," agreed Cleek, "but on the other hand, it may 
be something of a totally different character — for one 
thing, the possible point at which contact was established 
between the man's blood and something of a poisonous 
character. An injection of cyanide of potassium, for in- 
stance, would cause death, and account in a measure for this 
suggestion of asphyxia conveyed by the expression of the 

"True, my good sir; but have the goodness to ask your- 
self who could get into the place to administer such hypo- 
dermic? And, if self-administered, what can have become 
of the syringe? If thrown from one of the bowman's slits, 
it could only have fallen upon the roof of the wing, and I 
assure you that was searched most thoroughly long before 
your arrival. I don't think you will go so far as to suggest 
that it was shot in, attached to some steel missile capable of 
making a wound; for no such missile is, as you see, em- 
bedded in the flesh nor was one lying anywhere about the 
floor. The cyanide of potassium theory is ingenious, but 
I'm afraid it won't hold water." 


"Hold water!" The phrase brought Cleek's thoughts 
harking back to what he had been told regarding the little 
puddle of water lying on the floor, and of a sudden his eyes 
narrowed, and the curious one-sided smile travelled up his 

''No, I suppose not," he said, replying to the doctor's 
remark. *' Besides, your test tubes would have settled 
that when it settled the carbon monoxide question. Had 
cyanide been present, the specimens of blood would have 
been clotted and blue." 

Of a sudden it seemed to dawn upon the doctor that this 
didn't smack quite so much of Board School intelligence as 
he had fancied, and, facing round, he looked at Cleek with 
a new-born interest. 

^'I beg your pardon," he said, ''but I don't think I 
caught your name, Mr. — er — er " 

" Cleek, Doctor; Hamilton Cleek, at your service." 

" Good Lord! That is, I — er — er — my dear sir, my 
dear Mr. Cleek, if there is any intelligence I can possibly 
supply, pray command me." 

"With pleasure, Doctor, and thank you very much in- 
deed for the kind offer. I have been told that there was a 
little puddle of water on the floor at the time the murder was 
discovered, also that you took a sample of it for analysis. 
As I don't see any sign of that puddle now, would you mind 
telling me what that analysis established. I have heard, I 
may tell you, that you found the water to contain no poi- 
sonous substance; but I should be obhged if you can tell me 
if it was water drawn from a well or such as might have 
been taken from a river or pond." 

"As a matter of fact, my dear Mr. Cleek, 1 don't think it 
came from any of the three." 

"Hum-m-m! A manufactured mineral water, then?" 

"No, not that, either. If it had been raining and there 
was any hole or leak in this roof, I should have said it was 


rain,water that had dripped in and formed a Httle puddle on 
the floor. If it had been winter, I should have said it was 
the result of melted snow. As a matter of fact, I inchne 
more to the latter theory than to any other, although it is 
absurd, of course, to think of snow being obtainable any- 
where in England in the month of July." 

''Quite so, quite so — unless — it doesn't matter. That's 
all, thank you. Doctor, and very many thanks." 

"A word, please, Mr. Cleek," interposed the doctor as 
he turned to move away and leave him. "I am afraid I 
was not very communicative nor very cordial when you 
asked me if I had any idea of the means employed to bring 
about the unfortunate man's death; may I hope that you 
will be better mannered than I, Mr. Cleek, if I ask you if 
you have? Thanks, very much. Then, have you? " 

"Yes," said Cleek. "And so, too, will you, if you will 
make a second blood test, with the specimens you have, at a 
period of about forty-eight hours after the time of decease. 
It will take quite that before the presence of the thing mani- 
fests itself under the influence of any known process or 
responds to any known test. And even then it will only be 
detected by a faintly alcoholic odour and excessively bitter 
taste. The man has been murdered* — done to death by 
that devil's drug woorali, if I am not mistaken. But who 
administered it and how it was administered are things I 
can't tell you yet." 

"WooraK! WooraH! That is the basis of the drug cu- 
rarin, produced by RouHn and Boussingault in 1828 from a 
combination of the alKed poisons known to the savages of 
South America and of the tropics by the names of cor- 
roval and vao, is it not?" 

"Yes. And a fiend's thing it is, too. A m.ere scratch 
from anything steeped in it is enough to kill an ox almost 
immediately. The favourite 'native' manner of using the 
heUish thing is by means of a thorn and a blowpipe. But 


no such method has been employed in this case. No thorn 
nor, indeed, any other projectile has entered the flesh, nor 
is there one lying anywhere about the floor. Be sure I 
looked. Doctor, the instant I suspected that woorali had 
been used. Pardon me, but that must be all for the pres- 
ent. I have other fish to fry." 


THE '' frying" of them took the shape of first gomg out- 
side and walking round the Stone Drum, and then of 
stepping back to the door and beckoning Narkom and Lord 
Fallowfield and young James Drake out to him. 

* ^Anybody in the habit of sitting out here to read or 
paint or anything of that sort? " he asked abruptly. 

" Good gracious, no! " repHed Lord Fallowfield. '^What- 
ever makes you ask such a tiling as that, Mr. Cleek? " 

*' Nothing, only that I have found four httle marks dis- 
posed of at such regular distances that they seem to have 
been made by the four legs of a chair resting, with a rather 
heavy weight upon it, on the leads of the roof and immedi- 
ately under one of the bowman's slits in the Stone Drum. 
A chair with casters, I should imagine, from the character 
of the marks. We are on a level with the sleeping quar- 
ters of the servants in the house proper, I believe, and chairs 
with casters are not usual in servants' bedrooms in most 
houses. Are they so here?" 

''Certainly not," put in young Drake. ''Why, I don't 
believe there is a chair with casters on the whole blessed 
floor. Is there. Lord Fallowfield? You ought to know." 

"Yes, there is, Jim. There are three in fact; they all 
are in the old armoury. Been there a dog's age; and they 
so matched the old place your poor father never had them 
taken out." 

"The 'old armoury'? What's that, your lordship, may 
I ask?" 

"Oh, a relic of the old feudal times, Mr. Cleek. You see, 



on account of the position of the Stone Drum, the weapon 
room, or arming-room, had to be up here on a level with the 
wing roof, instead of below stairs, as in the case of other 
lowers.' That's the place over there — the window just 
to the left of the door leading into the building proper. It 
is full of the old battle flags, knights' pennants, shields, 
cross-bows, and the Lord knows what of those old days of 
primitive warfare. We Fallowfields always preserved it, 
just as it was in the days of its usefulness, for its historical 
interest and its old association with the name. Like to 
have a look at it?" 

''Very much indeed," replied Cleek, and two minutes 
later he was standing in the place and revelHng in its air of 

As Lord Fallowfield had declared, the three old chairs 
which supplied seating accommodation were equipped with 
casters, but although these were the prime reason for Cleek's 
visit to the place, he gave them little more than a passing 
glance, bestowing all his attention upon the ancient shields 
and the quaint old cross-bows with which the walls were 
heavily hung in tier after tier almost to the groined ceil- 

''Primitive times, Mr. Narkom, when men used to go 
out with these jimcrack things and bang away at each 
other mth skewers!" he said, taking one of them down and 
examining it in a somewhat casual manner, turning it over, 
testing its weight, looking at its catch, and running his fin- 
gers up and down the propelling string. "Fancy a chap 
with one of these things running up against a modern bat- 
tery or sailing out into a storm of shrapnel! Back to your 
hook, grandfather" — hanging it up again — " times change 
and we with time. By the way, your lordship, I hope you 
will be better able to give an account of your whereabouts 
last night than I hear that Mr. Drake here is able to do 
regarding his." 


"I? Good heavens, man, what do you mean?" flung 
out his lordship, so taken aback by the abruptness of the 
remark that the very breath seemed to be knocked out of 
him. ''Upon my soul, Mr. Cleek " 

''Gently, gently, your lordship. You must certainly re- 
alize that in the circumstances the same necessity must 
exist for you to explain your movements as exists for Mr. 
Drake. I am told that in the event of the elder Mr. Drake's 
death this property was to come to you wholly unencum- 
bered by any charge or any restrictions whatsoever." 

"Good God! So it was. Upon my soul, I'd forgotten 
all about that!" exclaimed his lordship with such an air 
that he was either speaking the absolute truth or was a very 
good actor indeed. 

"Jim! My boy! Oh, good heavens! I never gave the 
thing a thought — never one! No, Mr. Cleek, I can give 
no account of my movements other than to say that I went 
to bed directly I left the Stone Drum. Or — yes. I can 
prove that much, by George! I can, indeed. Ojeebi was 
with me, or, at least, close at my heels at the time, and he 
saw me go into my room, and must have heard me lock 
the door." 

"Ojeebi? Who is he?" 

"My father's Japanese valet," put in young Drake. 
"Been with him for the past five years. If he tells you 
that he saw Lord Fallowfield go into his room and lock the 
door after him, you can rely upon that as an absolute and 
irrefutable truth. 'Whitest' Httle yellow man that ever 
walked on two feet; faithful as a dog, and as truthful as 
they make 'em." 

"And they don't make 'em any too truthful, as a rule, 
in his country, by Jove!" said Cleek. "Still, of course, as 

he could not possibly have anything to gain Call 

him up, will you, and let us hear what he has to say with 
regard to Lord Fallowfield's statement." 


Young Drake rang for a servant, issued the necessary- 
order, and some five or six minutes later a timid little yel- 
low man with the kindest face and the most gentle step a 
man could possess came into the room, his soft eyes red- 
dened with much weeping, and tear-stains marking his sal- 
low cheeks. 

''Oh, Mr. Jim! Oh, Mr. Jim! the dear, kind old 'boss'l 
He gone ! he gone ! " he broke out disconsolately as he caught 
sight of his late master's son, and made as if to prostrate 
himself before him. 

''That's all right, Ojeebi — that's all right, old man!'' 
interrupted young Drake, with a smothered "blub" in his 
voice and a twitching movement of his mouth. "Cut it 
out ! I'm not iron. Say, this gentleman wants to ask you a 
few questions, Ojeebi; deliver the goods just as straight as 
you know how." 

"Me, Mr. Jim? Gentleman want question me?" The 
small figure turned, the kindly face lifted, and the sorrowful 
eyes looked up into Cleek's unemotional ones. 

"Yes," said he placidly; and forthwith told him what 
Lord Fallowfield claimed. 

"That very true," declared Ojeebi. "The lord gentle- 
man he right ahead of me. I see him go into his room and 
hear him lock door. That very true indeed." 

" H'm ! Any idea of the time? " 

"Yes — much idea. Two minutes a-past twelve. I see 
clock as I go past Lady Marj'ie's room." 

"What were you doing knocking about that part of the 
house at that hour of the night? Your room's up here in 
the servant's quarters, isn't it?" 

"Yes, sir. But I go take ice- water to the boss's room. 
Boss never go to bed nights without ice- water handy, sir. 
'Merican boss never do." 

"Yes! Quite so, quite so! Where did you get the ice 
rom — and how? Chop it from a big cake?" 


''No, sir. It always froze to fit bottle. I get him from 
the ice-make room downstairs." 

*'He means the refrigerating room, Mr. Cleek," explained 
young Drake. "You know, I take it, what a necessary 
commodity we Americans hold ice to be. Indeed, the dear 
old dad wouldn't think a dinner was a dinner without ice- 
water on the table, and ice-cream for the final course. And 
as there was no possibility of procuring a regular and ade- 
quate supply in an out-of-the-way spot like this, he had a 
complete artificial ice-making plant added to the place, and 
overcame the difficulty in that way. That is what Ojeebi 
means by the 'ice-make room.^ What he means about its 
being frozen to fit the bottles is this: The ice which is to 
be used for drinking purposes is manufactured in forms 
or vessels which turn it out in cubes, so that whenever 
it is wanted all that a servant has to do is to go to the 
plant, and the man in charge suppHes him with all the cubes 

''Ah, I see," said Cleek, and stroked his chin. "Well, 
that's all, I reckon, for the time being. Ojeebi has cer- 
tainly backed up your statement to the fullest, your lord- 
ship, so we can dispense with him entirely. And now, if I 
have your permission, gentlemen, I should Hke to feel my- 
self privileged to go poking about the house and grounds for 
the next hour or so in quest of possible clues. At the end 
of that time I will rejoin you here, and shall hope to have 
something definite to report. So if you don't mind my 

going Thanks very much. Come along, Mr. Nar- 

kom. I've a Httle something for you to do, and — an hour 
will do it, or I'm a dogberry." 

With that he took his departure from the armoury and, 
with the superintendent following, went down through the 
house to the grounds and out into the screen of close crowd- 
ing, view-defying trees. 

Here he paused a minute to puU out his notebook and 


scribble something on a leaf, and then to tear out that leaf 
and put it into Mr. Narkom's hand. 

"Rush Lennard off to the post-office with that, will you? 
and have it wired up to town as soon as possible," he said. 
"Prepay the reply, and get that reply back to me as soon as 
telegraph and motor can get it here." 

Then he swung off out of the screen of the trees and round 
the angle of the building, and set about hunting for the 
refrigerating plant. 


IT WAS five and after when the superintendent, pale and 
shaking with excitement, came up the long drive from 
the Hall gates and found Cleek lounging in the doorway of 
the house, placidly smoking a cigarette and twirHng a Uttle 
ball of crumpled newspaper in his hand. 

''Right was I, Mr. Narkom?" he queried smilingly. 

"Good God, yes! Right as rain, old chap. Been carry- 
ing it for upward of a twelvemonth, and no doubt waiting 
for an opportunity to strike." 

''Good! And while you have been attending to your 
little part of the business I've been looking out for mine, 
dear friend. Look!" said Cleek, and opened up the little 
ball of paper sufficiently to show what looked Hke a cut-glass 
scent bottle belonging to a lady's dressing-bag close stoppered 
with a metal plug sealed round with candle wax. " Woorali, 
my friend; and enough in it to kill an army. Come along — 
we've got to the bottom of the thing, let us go up and 
'report.' The gentlemen will be getting anxious." 

They were ; for on reaching the armoury they found young 
Drake and Lord Fallowfield showing strong traces of the 
mental strain under which they were labouring and talking 
agitatedly with Lady Marjorie Wynde, who had, in the 
interim, come up and joined them, and was herself appar- 
ently in need of something to sustain and to strengthen her; 
for Ojeebi was standing by with an extended salver, from 
which she had just lifted to her hps a glass of port. 

"Good God! I never was so glad to see anybody in my 
life, gentlemen," broke out young Drake as they appeared. 



*^It's beyond the hour you asked for — ages beyond — and 
my nerves are ahnost pricking their way through my skin. 
Mr. Cleek — Mr. Narkom — speak up, for heaven's sake. 
Have you succeeded in finding out anything?" 

*^ We've done better than that, Mr. Drake," replied 
Cleek, *'for we have succeeded in finding out everything. 
Look sharp there, Mr. Narkom, and shut that door. Lady 
Marjorie looks as if she were going to faint, and we don't 
want a whole houseful of servants piling in here. That's 
it. Back against the door, please; her ladyship seems on 
the point of crumpling up." 

"No, no, I'm not; indeed, I'm not!" protested Lady 
Marjorie with a forced smile and a feeble effort to hold her 
galloping nerves in check. "I am excited and very much 
upset, of course, but I am really much stronger than you 
would think. Still, if you would rather I should leave the 
room, Mr. Cleek " 

"Oh, by no means, your ladyship. I know how anxious 
you are to learn the result of my investigations. And, by 
that token, somebody else is anxious, too — the doctor. 
Call him in, will you, Mr. Drake? He is still with the 
others in the Stone Drum, I assume." 

He was; and he came out of it with them at young 
Drake's call, and joined the party in the armoury. 

"Doctor," said Cleek, looking up as he came in, "we've 
got to the puzzle's unpicking, and I thought you'd be inter- 
ested to hear the result. I was right about the substance 
employed, for I've found the stuff and I've nailed the guilty 
party. It was woorali, and the reason why there was no 
trace of a weapon was because the blessed thing melted. 
It was an icicle, my friend, an icicle with its point steeped 
in woorali, and if you want to know how it did its work — 
why, it was shot in there from the cross-bow hanging on the 
wall immediately behind me, and the person who shot it 
in was so short that a chair was necessary to get up to 


the bowman's slit when No, you don't, my beauty! 

There's a gentleman with a noose waiting to pay his respects 
to all such beasts as you!" 

Speaking, he sprang with a sharp, flashing movement 
that was like to nothing so much as the leap of a pouncing 
cat, and immediately there was a yap and a screech, a yell 
and a struggle, a click of clamping handcuffs, and a scuffle 
of writhing Hmbs, and a moment later they that were 
watching saw him rise with a laugh, and stand, with his 
hands on his hips, looking down at Ojeebi lying crumpled 
up in a heap, with gyves on his wrists and panic in his eyes, 
at the foot of the guarded door. 

" Wefl, my pleasant-faced, agreeable httle demon, it'fl be 
many a long day before the spirits of your ancestors wel- 
come you back to Nippon!" Cleek said as the panic- 
stricken Jap, realizing what was before him, began to shriek 
and shriek until his brain and nerves sank into a collapse 
and he fainted where he lay. "I've got you and I've got 
the woorah. I went through your trunk and found it — as 
I knew I should from the moment I clapped eyes upon 
you. If the laws of the country are so lax that they make it 
possible for you to do what you have done, they also are 
stringent enough to make you pay the price of it with your 
yellow Httle neck!" 

''In the name of heaven, Mr. Cleek," spoke up young 
Drake, breaking silence suddenly, ''what can the boy have 
done? You speak as if it were he that murdered my father; 
but, man, why should he? What had he to gain? What 
motive could a harmless little chap like this have for killing 
the man he served?" 

"The strongest in the world, my friend — the greed of 
gain ! " said Cleek. "What he could not do in your father's 
land it is possible for him to do in this one, which foolishly 
allows its subjects to insure even the life of its ruler with- 
out his will, knowledge, or consent. For nearly a twelve- 


month this little brute has been carrying a heavy insurance 
upon the Hfe of Jefferson P. Drake; but, thank God, he'll 
never live to collect it. What's that. Doctor? How did I 
find that out? By the simplest means possible, my dear sir. 

^'For a reason which concerns nobody but myself, I 
dropped in at the Guildford office of the Royal British Life 
Assurance Society in the latter part of last May, and upon 
that occasion I marked the singular circumstance that a 
Japanese was then paying the premium of an already exist- 
ing policy. Why I speak of it as a singular circumstance, 
and why I let myself be impressed by it, lie in the fact that, 
as the Japanese regard their dead ancestors with absolute 
veneration and the privilege of being united with them a 
boon which makes death glorious, life assurance is not 
popular with them, since it seems to be insulting their 
ancestors and makes joining them tainted with the odour 
of baser things. Consequently, I felt pretty certain that 
it was some other life than his own he was there to pay the 
regularly recurring premium upon. The chances are, 
Doctor, that in the ordinary run of things I should never 
have thought of that man or that circumstance again. 
But it so happens that I have a very good memory for faeces 
and events, so when I came down here to investigate this 
case, and in the late Mr. Drake's valet saw that Japanese 
man again — voila ! I should have been an idiot not to put 
two and two together. 

*'The remainder, a telegram inquiring if an insurance 
upon the life of Jefferson P. Drake, the famous inventor, 
had been effected by anybody but the man himself, settled 
the thing beyond question. As for the rest, it is easy 
enough to explain. Your remark that the little puddle 
found upon the floor of the Stone Drum appeared to you to 
bear a distinct resemblance to the water resulting from 
melted snow, added to what I already knew regarding the re- 
frigerating plant installed here, put me on the track of the 


ice; and as the small spot on the temple was of so minute a 
character, I knew that the weapon must have been pointed. 
A pointed weapon of ice leaves but one conclusion possible, 
Doctor. I have since learned from the man in charge of 
the refrigerating plant that this yellow blob of iniquity here 
was much taken by the icicles which the process of refrigera- 
tion caused to accumulate in the place and upon the ma- 
chine itself during rotation, and that last night shortly 
after twelve o'clock he came down and broke off and car- 
ried away three of them. How I came to know what 
motive power he employed to launch the poisoned shaft 
can be explained in a word. Most of the weapons — 
indeed, all but one — hanging on the wall of this armoury 
are lightly coated with dust, showing that it must be a week 
or more since any housemaid's work was attended to in this 
particular quarter. One of them is not dusty. Further- 
more, when I took it down for the purpose of examining it 
I discovered that, although smeared with ink or paint to 
make it look as old as the others, the bowstring was of fresh 
catgut, and there was a suspicious dampness about the 
'catch,' which suggested either wet hands or the partial 
melting, under the heat of living flesh, of the 'shaft,' which 
had been an icicle. That's all, Doctor; that's all, Mr. 
Drake; that's quite all. Lord Fallowfield. A good, true- 
hearted young chap will get both the girl he wants and the 
inheritance which should be his by right; a good, true friend 
will get back the ancestral home he lost through misfor- 
tune and has regained through chance, and a patient and 
faithful lady will, in all probability, get the man she loves 
Vvithout now having to wait until he comes into a dead man's 
shoes. Lady Marjorie, my compHments. Doctor, my best 
respects, and gentlemen all — good afternoon." 

And here with that weakness for the theatrical which 
was his besetting sin, he bowed to them with his hat laid 
over his heart, and walked out of the room. 


"XTO, MR. NARKOM, no. As an instrument of death 
-*- ^ the icicle is not new," said Cleek, answering the super- 
intendent's question as the limousine swung out through the 
gates of Heatherington Hall and faced the long journey back 
to London. ''If you will look up the records of that ener- 
getic female, Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, you 
will find that she employed it in that capacity upon two 
separate occasions; and coming down to more modern 
times, you will also find that in the year 1872 the Russian, 
Lydia Bolorfska, used it at GaHtch, in the province of 
Kostroma, to stab her sleeping husband. But as a pro- 
jectile, it is new — as a successful projectile, I mean — for 
there have been many attempts made, owing to its propen- 
sity to dissolve after use, to discharge it from firearms, but 
never in one single instance have those attempts resulted in 
success. The explosion has always resulted in shivering 
and dispersing it in a shower of spHnters as it leaves the 
muzzle of the weapon. There can be no doubt, however, 
that could it be propelled in a perfectly horizontal position, 
the power behind it would, in spite of its brittle nature, drive 
it through a pine board an inch thick. But, as I have said, 
the motive power always defeats the object by landing it 
against the target in a mass of splinters.'^ 

'' I see. And the Jap got over that by employing a cross- 
bow; and that, of course, did the trick." 

''No. I doubt if he would have been able to put enough 
power behind that to drive it into the man's body with 
deadly effect, if, indeed, he could make it enter it at all. 



Where Ojeebi scored over all others lay in the fact that with 
his plan there was no necessity to have the icicle enter the 
victim's body at all. He required nothing more than just 
sufficient power of propulsion to break the skin and estab- 
lish contact with the blood, and then that hellish com- 
pound on the point of the projectile could be depended upon 
to do the rest. It did, as you know, and then dropped to 
the floor and melted away, leaving nothing but a little pud- 
dle of water behind it." 

''But, Cleek, my dear chap, how do you account for the 
fact that when the doctor came to analyze that water he 
found no trace of the poison in it? " 

''He did, Mr. Narkom, only that he didn't recognize it. 
Woorali is extremely volatile, for one thing, and evaporates 
rapidly. For another, there was a very small quantity 
used — a very small quantity necessary, so mahgnant it is 
— and the water furnished by the melting icicle could dilute 
that Httle tremendously. It would not be able to obHter- 
ate all trace of it, however, but the infinitesimal portion re- 
maining would make spring water give the same answer in 
analysis as that given by the water resulting from melted 
snow. It was when Doctor Hague mentioned the fact that 
if it wasn't for the utter absurdity of looking for such a sub- 
stance in England in July, he should have said it was melted 
snow, that I really got my first clue. Later, however, 

when But come, let's chuck it! I've had enough of 

murder and murderers for one day — let's talk of something 
else. Our new 'turnout,' here, for instance. You have 
' done yourself proud ' this time and no mistake — she cer- 
tainly is a beauty, Mr. Narkom. By the way, what have 
you done with the old red one? Sold it? " 

"Not I, indeed. I knov/ a trick worth two of that. I 
send it out, empty, every day, in the hope of having those 
Apache johnnies follow it, and have a plain-clothes man 
trailing along beliind in a taxi, ready to nip in and follow 


them if they do. But they don't — that is, they haven^t up 
to the present; but there's always hope, you know." 

^'Not in that direction, I'm afraid. Waldemar's a better 
general than that, believe me. Knowing that we have dis- 
covered his little plan of following the red limousine just as 
we discovered his other, of following me, he will have gone 
off on another tack, believe me." 

^'Scotland ! You don't think, do you, that he can possibly 
have found out anything about the new one and has set in 
to follow ////5.?" 

" No, I do not. As a matter of fact I fancy he has started 
to do what he ought to have done in the beginning — that 
is, to keep a close watch on the criminal news in the papers 
day by day, and every time a crime of any importance crops 
up, pay his respects to the theatre of it and find out who is 
the detective handling the case. A ducat to a doughnut 
he'd have been on our heels down here to-day if this little 
business of the Stone Drum had been made public in time 
to get into the morning papers. He means to have me, Mr. 
Narkom, if having me is possible; and he's down to the last 
ditch and getting desperate. Yesterday's cables from 
Mauravania are anything but reassuring." 

''I know. They say that unless something happens very 
shortly to turn the tide in Ulric's favour and quell the cries 
for 'Restoration,' the King's downfall and expulsion are 
merely a matter of a few days at most. But what's that 
got to do with it that you suggest its bearing upon any need 
for haste on Waldemar's part? " 

*'Only that, with matters in such a state, he cannot long 
defer his return to the army of his country and the defence 
of its king," replied Cleek, serenely. "And every day he 
loses in failing to pay his respects to your humble servant 
in the manner he desires to do increases the strain of 
the situation and keeps him from the service of his royal 


*'Well, I wish to God something would happen to blow 
him and his royal master and their blooming royal country 
off the map, dammem!'' blazed out Narkom, too savage to 
be choice of words. *' We've never had a moment's peace, 
you and I, since the dashed combination came into the 
game. And for what, I should like to know? Not that 
it's any use asking you. You're so devihsh close-mouthed a 
man' might as well ask questions of a ton of coal for all an- 
swer he may hope to get. I shall always beheve, however, 
that you did something pretty dashed bad to the King of 
Mauravania that time you were over there on that business 
about the Rainbow Pearl, to make the beggar turn against 
you, as I believe he /^a^." 

*'Then, you will always believe what isn't true," replied 
Cleek, lighting a fresh cigarette. *'I simply restored the 
pearl and his Majesty's letter to the hands of Count Irma, 
and did not so much as see the King while I was there. Why 
should I? — a mere poKce detective, who had been hired 
to do a service and paid for it like any other hireling. I 
took my money and I went my way; that's all there was 
about it. If it has pleased Count Waldemar to entertain 
an ugly feehng of resentment toward me, I can't help that, 
can I now?" 

*^0h, then, it's really a personal affair between you and 
him, after all?" 

'^Something like that. He doesn't approve of my — er 
— knowing things that I do know; and it would be the end 
of a very promising future for him if I told. Here — have a 
cigarette and smoke yourself into a better temper. You 
look savage enough to bite a nail in two." 

"I'd bite it in four if it looked anything hke that Walde- 
mar Johnnie, by James!" asserted the superintendent, vig- 
orously. "And if ever he lays a hand on you Look 

here, Cleek: I know it sounds un-EngHsh, very Continental, 
rotten *soft' from one man to another, but — dammit, 


Cleek, I love you! I'd go to hell for you! I'd die fighting 
for you! Do you understand?'* 

^'Perfectly/' said Cleek; then he put out his hand and 
took Mr. Narkom's in a hard, firm grip, and added, gently: 
*'My friend, my comrade, my pal! Side by side — to- 
gether — to the end." And the car ran on for a good half 
mile before either spoke again. 


It was an hour later, and Cleek's voice broke the 
silence abruptly. He had taken out his notebook and had 
been scribbhng in it for some little time, but now, as he 
spoke, he tore out the written leaf and passed it over to the 

"Mr. Narkom, I refused, in the beginning, to give you the 
address of the little house at which I was located. Here it 
is. Put it in your pocketbook against future need, will 

*'Yes, certainly. But cinnamon! old chap, what good is 
it to me now when you've left the place?" 

"You will understand, perhaps, when I tell you that Miss 
Lome is its present occupant. It was for that I took it in 
the beginning. There may come a need to communicate 
with her; there may come a need for her to communicate 
with you. There's always a chance, you know, that a 
candle may be put out when the w^ind blows at it from all 
directions ; and if anything should happen — I mean if — 
er — anything having a bearing upon me personally that 
you think she ought to be told should come to pass — well, 
just go to her at once, will you? — there's a dear friend. 
That's the address (don't lose it) and full directions how to 
get there speedily. I am giving it to you now, as we shall 
soon be in town again and I shall leave you directly we 
arrive there. I'm in haste to get back to Dollops and see 
if between us we can't hit upon some plan, he and I, to 
get at the whereabouts of Waldemar. That plain-clothes 



man of yours is like the butler with the bottle of cider — 
he ^doesn't seem to get any forrarder.' " 

^'Kibble white!" blurted out the superintendent, sitting 
up sharply. "Well, of all the born jackasses, of ail the 
mutton-heads in this world " 

"Well, he doesn't seem to be very bright, I must say." 

"He? Lud! I wasn't talking about him; I was talking 
about myself. I had something to tell you to-day, and this 
blessed business drove it clean out of my head. Kibble- 
white had the dickens and all of a time trying to get at that 
chap Serpice, as you may remember?" 

"I do — in a measure. Succeeded in finding out, finally, 
that the carriage he drove was one he hired from a Hvery- 
man by the month, I think was the last report you gave 
me; but couldn't get any further with the business because 
Serpice took it into his head not to call for the carriage again 
and made off, this Kibblewhite chap didn't know where, 
and appears never to have found a means of discovering." 

"No; he didn't. But ten days ago he got word from the 
liveryman that Serpice had just turned up and was about to 
make use of the carriage again; and off Kibblewhite cut, 
hotfoot, in the hope of being able to follow him. No go, 
however. By the time he arrived at the stable Serpice 
had already gone; so there was nothing left for the poor 
disappointed chap to do but to go out on the hunt and see 
if he couldn't pick him up somewhere in the streets." 

"Which he didn't, of course?" 

"Excuse me — which he did. But it was late in the 
afternoon and he was coming back to the stable with the 
carriage empty. Also, it was in the thick of the traffic at 
Ludgate Circus, and Kibblewhite was so afraid the fellow 
might mix himself up in it and give him the slip that he 
took a chance shot to prevent it. Nipping up the ofiicer on 
point, he made himself and his business known, and, in a 
winking, in nips the constable, hauls Mr. Serpice up sharp, 


and arrests him for driving a public vehicle without a 

''Well played, Kibblewhite ! " approved Cleek. ''That, 
of course, meant that the fellow would be arrested and have 
to give his address and all the rest of it?" 

"So Kibblewhite himself thought; but what does the 
beggar do but turn the tables on him in the most unex- 
pected m.anner by absolutely refusing to do anything of the 
kind, and, as he did not have a license, and would not call 
anybody to pay liis fine, the magistrate finished the busi- 
ness by committing him to jail for ten days in default. 
And here's the thing I was ass enough to forget: His ten 
days' imprisonment was up this morning; Kibblewhite, in 
disguise, was to be outside the jail to follow him when he 
was discharged and see where he went, and he told me to 
look for him to turn up at the Yard before six this evening 
with a full report of the result of his operations." 

"Bravo!" said Cleek, leaning back in his seat, with a sigh 
of satisfaction. "I've changed my mind about leaving 
you, Mr. Narkom; we will go on to the Yard together. As, 
in all probabihty, after ten days without being able to com- 
municate with his pals or with Waldemar, our friend Ser- 
pice will be hot to get to them at once and explain the cause 
of his long absence, the chances are that Kibblewhite will 
have something of importance to report at last." 

He had, as they found out when, in the fulness of time, 
they arrived at the Yard and were told that he was waiting 
for them in the superintendent's ofl&ce, and in his excite- 
ment he almost threw it at them, so eager he was to report. 

"I've turned the trick at last, Superintendent," he cried. 
"The silly josser played straight into my hands, sir. The 
minute he was out of jail he made a beehne for Soho, and 
me after liim, and there he ' takes to earth' in a rotten Kttle 
restaurant in the worst part of the district; and when I nips 
over and has a look inside, there he was shakin' hands with 


a lot of Frenchies of his own kind, and them all prancin' 
about and laughin' like they'd gone off their bloomin' 
heads. I sees there aren't no back door to the place, and I 
knows from that that he'd have to come out the same way as 
he went in, so off I nips over to the other side of the street 
and lays in wait for him. 

''After about ten minutes or so, out he comes — him and 
another of the lot — moppin' of his mouth with his coat- 
sleeve, and off they starts in a great hurry, and me after 
them. They goes first to a barber shop, where the man I 
was followin' nips in, has a shave, a hair-cut and a wash-up, 
while the chap that was with him toddles off and fetches 
him a clean shirt and a suit of black clothes. In about 
fifteen minutes out my man comes again, makin' a tolerable 
respectable appearance, sir, after his barberin' and in his 
clean linen and decent clothes. Him and his mate stands 
talkin' and grinnin' for a minute or so, then they shakes 
hands and separates, and off my man cuts it, westward. 

''Sir, I sticks to him like a brother. I follers him smack 
across to the Strand and along that to the Hotel Cecil, and 
there the beggar nips in and goes up the courtyard as bold 
as you please, sends up his name to a gent, the gent sends 
down word for him to be showed up at once, and in that way 
I spots my man. For when I goes up to the clerk and shows 
my badge and asks who was the party my Johnnie had 
asked for, he tells me straight and clear: 'Gentleman he's 
making a suit of clothes for — Baron Rodolf de Mont- 
ravenne, an Austrian nobleman, who has been stopping here 
for weeks!" 

Cleek twitched round his eye and glanced at Narkom. 

*' 'Things least hidden are best hidden,' " he quoted, 
smiKng. "The dear count knows a thing or two, you per- 
ceive. You have done very well indeed, Kibblewhite. Here 
is your ten-pound note and many thanks for you services. 
Good evening." 


Kibblewhite took the money and his departure immedi- 
ately; but so long as he remained within hearing distance 
— so long as the echo of his departing steps continued to 
sound — Cleek remained silent, and the curious crooked 
smile made a loop in his cheek. But of a sudden: 

^'Mr. Narkom," he said, quietly ''I shan't be found in 
any of my usual haunts for the next few days. If, however, 
you should urgently need me, call at the Hotel Cecil and 
ask for Captain Maltravers — and call in disguise, please ; 
our friend the count is keen. Remember the name. Or, 
better still, write it down." 

"But, good God! Cleek, such a risk as that '* 

*'No — please — don't attempt to dissuade me. I want 
that man, and I'll get him if getting him be humanly pos- 
sible. That's all. Thanks very much. Good-bye." 

Then the door opened and shut, and by the time Mr. 
Narkom could turn round from writing down the name he 
had been given, he was quite alone in the room. 


"^TUM-BAH Nine-nine ty-two — Captain Maltravers, 
-»>-^ please. Nine-ninety-two. Num-bah Nine-ninety- 

Thrice the voice of the page — moving and droning out 
his words in that perfunctory manner peculiar unto the 
breed of hotel pages the world over — sounded its dreary 
monotone through the hum of conversation in the rather 
crowded tearoom without producing the slightest effect; 
then, of a sudden, the gentleman seated in the far corner 
reading the daily paper — a tall, fair-haired, fair-mous- 
tached gentleman with ''The Army" written all over him in 
capital letters — twitched up his head, listened until the 
call was given for the fourth time, and, thereupon, snapped 
/lis fingers sharply, elevated a beckoning digit, and called 
out crisply: ''Here, my boy — over here — this way!" 

The boy went to him immediately, extended a small, 
circular metal salver, and then, lifting the thumb which 
held in position the hand-written card thereon, allowed the 
sKp of pasteboard to be removed. 

*' Gentleman, sir — waiting in the office," he volunteered. 

"Captain Maltravers" glanced at the card, frowned, rose 
with it still held between his fingers, and within the space 
of a minute's time walked into the hotel's public office and 
the presence of a short, stout, full-bearded "dumpling" of 
a man with the florid complexion and the countr3^-cut 
clothes of a gentleman farmer, who half sat and half leaned 
upon the arm of a leather-covered settle nervously tapping 
with the ferule of a thick walking-cane, a boot whose exceed- 



ingly liigh sole and general construction mutely stood spon- 
sor for a withered and shortened leg. 

*'My dear Yard; I am delighted to see you!" exclaimed 
the "captain" as he bore down on the little round man and 
shook hands with him heartily. ''Grimshaw told me that 
you would be coming up to London shortly, but I didn't 
allow myself to hope that it would be so soon as this. Gad ! 
it's a dog's age since I've seen you. Come along up to my 
own room and let us have a good old-fashioned chat. Key 
of Nine-ninety-two, please, clerk. Thanks very much. 
Come along, Yard — this way, old chap!" 

With that he Knked his arm in his caller's, bore him cliunp- 
ing and wobbling to the nearby lift, and thence, in due 
course, to the door of number Nine-ninety-two and the 
seclusion which lay behind it. He was still chattering 
away gayly as the lift dropped down out of sight and left 
them, upon which he shut the door, locked it upon the 
inside, and stopping long enough to catch up a towel and 
hang it over the keyhole, turned on his heel and groaned. 

''What! am I not to have even a two days' respite, you 
indefatigable machine? ^^ he said, as he walked across the 
room and threw himself into a chair with a sigh of annoy- 
ance. ''Think! it was only this morning that I ventured 
upon the first casual bow of a fellow guest with the dear 
'Baron'; only at luncheon we exchanged the first civil word. 
But the ice was broken and I should have had him 'roped 
in' by teatime — I am sure of it. And now you come and 
nip my hopes in the bud like this. And in a disguise that 
a fellow as sharp as he would see through in a wink if he 
met you." 

"It was the best I could do, Cleek — I'm not a dabster 
in the art of making up, as you know." Mr. Narkom's voice 
was, Hke his air, duly apologetic. "Besides, I hung around 
until I saw him go out before I ventured in; although I was 
on thorns the whole blessed time. I had to see you, old 


chap — I simply had to — and every minute was of impor- 
tance. I shouldn't have ventured to come at all if it hadn't 
been imperative." 

^'I'm sure of that," said Cleek, recovering his good 
humour instantly. *' Don't mind my beastly bad temper 
this afternoon, there's a good friend. It's a bit of a dis- 
appointment, of course, after I'd looked forward to a clear 

field just as soon as Waldemar should return, but It is 

you, first and foremost, at all times and under all circum- 
stances. Other matters count as nothing with me when 
you call. Always remember that." 

^'I do, old chap. It's because I do that I went to the 
length of promising Miss Larue that I'd lay the case before 

''Miss Larue? A moment, please. Will the lady to 
whom you refer be Miss Margaret Larue, the celebrated 
actress? The one in question who treated me so cavalierly 
last August in that business regarding the disappearance 
of that chap James Colliver?" 

''Yes. He was her brother, you recollect, and — don't 
get hot about it, Cleek. I know she treated you very badly 
in that case, and so does she, but " 

"She treated me abominably!" interposed Cleek, with 
some heat. "First setting mic on the business, and then 
calling me off just as I had got a grip on the thing and was 
within measuring distance of the end. I can't forgive that; 
and I never could fathom her reason for it. If it was as 
you yourself suggested at the time, because she shrank from 
the notoriety that was Ukely to accrue to her from letting 
everybody in the world know that 'Jimmy the Shifter' was 
her own brother, she ought to have thought of that in the 
beginning — when she acknowledged it so openly — instead 
of making such an ass of me by her high-handed proceeding 
of calling me off the scent at its hottest, as if I were a tame 
puppy to be pulled this way and that with a string. I ob- 


ject to being made a fool of, Mr. Narkom; and there's no 
denying the fact that Miss Larue treated me very badly 
in that James Colliver case — very badly and very cava- 
lierly indeed." 

Unquestionably Miss Larue had. Even Mr. Narkom 
had to admit that; for the facts which lay behind these 
heated remarks were not such as are calculated to make any 
criminal investigator pleased with his connection therewith. 
Clearly set forth, those facts were as follows: 

On the nineteenth day of the preceding August, James 
ColHver had disappeared, as suddenly and as completely 
and with as little trace left behind as does a kinematograph 
picture when it vanishes from the screen. 

Now the world at large had never heard of James Colliver 
until he did disappear, and it is extremely doubtful if it 
would have done so even then but that circumstances con- 
nected with his vanishment brought to Hght the starthng 
disclosure that the worthless, dissolute hulk of a man who 
was known to the habitues of half the low-class public 
houses in Hoxton by the pseudonym of ''Jimmy the Shifter" 
was not only all that time and drink had left of the once 
popular melodramatic actor JuKan Monteith, but that he 
was, in addition thereto, own brother to Miss Margaret 
Larue, the distinguished actress who was at that moment 
electrifying London by her marvellous performance of the 
leading role in The Late Mrs. Cavendish. 

The reasons which unpelled Miss Larue to let the public 
discover that her real name was Maggie Colliver, and that 
"Jimmy the Shifter" was related to her by such close ties of 
blood, were these: The Late Mrs. Cavendish was nearing 
the close of its long and successful run at the Royalty, and 
its successor was already in rehearsal for early production. 
That successor was to be a specially rewritten version of 
the old-time favourite play Catharine Howard; or, The Tomb, 
the ThronCj and the Scaffold, with Miss Larue, of course, in 


the part of the ambitious and ill-fated Catharine. Prep- 
arations were on foot for a production which would be 
splendidly elaborate as to scenery and effects, and abso- 
lutely accurate as to detail. For instance, the costume 
which Henry VIII had worn at the time of his marriage 
with Catharine Howard was copied exactly, down to the 
minute question of the gaudy stitchery on the backs of the 
gloves and the toes of the shoes; and permission had been 
obtained to make the mimic betrothal ring which the stage 
*' Henry" was to press upon the finger of the stage "Cath- 
arine" an exact repKca of the real one, as preserved among 
the nation's historic jewels. Not to be outdone in this 
matter of accuracy, Miss Larue naturally aimed to have the 
dresses and the trinkets she wore as nearly Hke those of the 
original Catharine as it was possible to obtain. As her 
position in the world of art was now so eminent and had 
brought her into close touch with the elect, it was not diffi- 
cult for the lady to borrow dresses, and even jewels, of the 
exact period from the heirlooms treasured by members of 
the nobihty, that these might be copied in mimic gems for 
her by the well-known theatrical and show supply company 
of Henry Trent & Son, Soho. 

To this firm, which was in full charge of the preparation 
of dresses, properties, and accessories for the great produc- 
tion, was also entrusted the making of a ''cast" of Miss 
Larue's features and the manufacture therefrom of a wax 
head with which it was at first proposed to lend a touch of 
startling realism to the final scene of the execution of Cath- 
arine on Tower Hill, but which was subsequently aban- 
doned after the first night as being unnecessarily gruesome 
and repulsive. 

It was during the course of the final rehearsals for this 
astonishing production, and when the army of supers who 
had long been drilling for it at other hours was brought for 
the first time into contact with the "principals," that Miss 


Larue was horrified to discover among the members of that 
"army" her dissolute brother, "Jimmy the Shifter." 

For years — out of sheer sympathy for the wife who 
clung to him to the last, and the young son who w^as growing 
up to be a fine fellow despite the evil stock from which he 
had sprung — Miss Larue had continuously supphed this 
worthless brother with money enough to keep him, with the 
strict proviso that he was never to come near any theatre 
where she might be performing, nor ever at any time to make 
known his relationship to her. She now saw in this break- 
ing of a rule, which heretofore he had inviolably adhered 
to, clear evidence that the man had suddenly become a 
menace, and she was in great haste to get him out of touch 
with her colleagues before anything could be done to 
disgrace her. 

In so sudden and so pressing an emergency she could think 
of no excuse but an errand by which to get him out of the 
theatre, and of no errand but one — the stage jewels which 
Messrs. Trent & Son were making for her. She therefore 
sat down quickly at the prompt table, and, drawing a sheet 
of paper to her, wrote hurriedly: 

Messrs, Trent b' Son: 

Gentlemen — Please give the bearer my jewels — or such of 
them as are finished, if you have not done with all — that he 
may bring them to me immediately, as I have instant need of 
them. Yours faithfully, 

Margaret Larue. 

This she passed over to the stage manager, with a request 
to "Please read that, Mr. Lampson, and certify over your 
signature that it is authentic, and that you vouch for having 
seen me write it." After which she got up suddenly, and 
said as calmly as she could: "Mr. Super Master, I want 
to borrow one of your men to go on an important errand to 
Trent & Son for me. This one will do," signalling out her 


brother. '' Spare him, please. This way, my man — come 

With that she suddenly caught up the note she had writ- 
ten — and which the stage manager had, as requested, cer- 
tified — and, beckoning her brother to follow, walked 
hurriedly off the stage to a deserted point in the wings. 

"Why have you done this dreadful thing?" she demanded 
in a low, fierce tone as soon as he came up with her. "Are 
you a fool as well as a knave that you come here and risk 
losing your only support by a thing like this? " 

"I wanted to see you — I had to see you — and it was 
the only way," he gave back in the same guarded tone. 
"The wife is dead. She died last night, and I've got to get 
money somewhere to bury her. I'd no one to send, since 
you've taken Ted away and sent him to school, so I had to 
come myself." 

The knowledge that it was for no more desperate reason 
than this that he had forced himself into her presence came 
as a great reUef to Miss Larue. She hastened to get rid of 
him by sending him to Trent & Son with the note that she 
had written, and to tell him to carry the parcel that would 
be handed to him to the rooms she was occupying in Port- 
man Square — and which she made up her mind to vacate 
the very next day — and there to wait until she came home 
from rehearsal. 

lie took the note and left the theatre at once, upon which 
Miss Larue, considerably relieved, returned to the duties 
in hand, and promptly banished all thought of him from her 

It was not until something like two hours afterward that 
he was brought back to mind in a somewhat disquieting 

"I say. Miss Larue," said the stage manager as she came 
off after thrice rehearsing a particularly trying scene, and, 
with a weary sigh, dropped into a vacant chair at his table, 


"aren't you worried about that chap you sent with the note 
to Trent & Son? There's been time for him to go and return 
twice over, you know; and I observe that he's not back yet. 
Aren't you a bit uneasy? " 

'^No. Why should I be?" 

*'Well, for one thing, I should say it was an extremely 
risky business unless you knew something about the man. 
Suppose, for instance, he should make off with the jewels? 
A pretty pickle you'd be in with the parties from whom you 
borrov/ed them, by Jove ! " 

*'Good gracious, you don't suppose I sent him for the 
originals, do you?" said Miss Larue with a smile. ''Trent 
& Son would think me a lunatic to do such a thing as that. 
What I sent him for was, of course, merely the paste 
repHcas. The originals I shall naturally go for myself." 

''God bless my soul! The paste repHcas, do you say?'* 
blurted in Mr. Lampson excitedly. "WTiy, I thought — ■ 
Trent & Son will be sure to think so themselves under the 
circumstances! They can't possibly think otherT\dse." 

"'Under the circumstances'? 'Think otherwise'?" re* 
peated Miss Larue, facing round upon him sharply. "What 
do you mean by that, Mr. Lampson? Good heavens! not 
that they could possibly be mad enough to give the man the 

"Yes, certainly! Good Lord! what else can they think — • 
what else can they give him? They sent the paste dupli- 
cates here by their own messenger this morning ! They are 
in the manager's office — in his safe — at this very minute; 
and I was going to bring them round to you as soon as the 
rehearsal is over!" 

Consternation followed this announcement, of course. 
The rehearsal was called to an abrupt halt. Mr. Lampson 
and Miss Larue flew round to the front of the house in a 
sort of panic, got to the telephone, and rang up Trent & Son, 
who confirmed their worst fears. Yes, the man had arrived 


with the note from Miss Larue something over an hour 
ago, and they had promptly handed him over the original 
jewels. Not all of them, of course, but those which they 
had finished duplicating and of which they had sent the 
replicas to the theatre by their own messenger that morning. 
Surely that was what Miss Larue meant by the demand, 
was it not? No other explanation seemed possible after 
they had sent her the copies and — Good Lord ! hadn't 
heard about it? Meant the imitations? Heavens above, 
what an appalling mistake! What was that? The man? 
Oh, yes; he took the things after Mr. Trent, senior, had 
removed them from the safe and handed them over to him, 
and he had left Mr. Trent's office directly he received them. 
Miss Larue could ascertain exactly what had been delivered 
to him by examining the duplicates their messenger had 
carried to the theatre. 

Miss Larue did, discovering, to her dismay, that they 
represented a curious ruby necklace, of which the original 
had been lent her by the Duchess of Oldhampton, a stom- 
acher of sapphires and pearls borrowed from the Marquise 
of Chepstow, and a rare Tudor clasp of diamonds and opals 
which had been lent to her by the Lady Margery Thraill. 

In a panic she rushed from the theatre', called a taxi, and, 
hoping against hope, whirled off to her rooms at Portman 
Square. No Mr. James ColHver had been there. Nor did 
he come there ever. Neither did he return to the squaKd 
home where his dead wife lay ; nor did any of his cronies nor 
any of his old haunts see hide or hair of him from that time. 
Furthermore, nobody answering to his description had been 
seen to board any train, steamship, or sailing-vessel leaving 
for foreign parts, nor could there be found any hotel, lodg- 
ing-house, furnished or even unfurnished apartment into 
which he had entered that day or upon any day thereafter. 

In despair. Miss Larue drove to Scotland Yard and put 
the matter into the h^nds of the pohce, offering a reward of 


;£^i,ooo for the recovery of the jewels; and through the 
medium of the newspapers promised Mr. James Colliver 
that she would not prosecute, but would pay that ;^i,ooo 
over to him if he would return the gems, that she might 
restore them to their rightful owners. 

Mr. James Colliver neither accepted that offer nor gave 
any sign that he was aware of it. It was then that Scotland 
Yard, in the person of Cleek, stepped in to conduct the 
search for both man and jewels; and within forty-eight hours 
some amazing circumstances were brought to Hght. 

First and forem^ost, Mr. Henry Trent, who said he had 
given the gems over to Colliver, and that the man had im- 
mediately left the ofhce, was unable, through the fact of 
his son's absence from town, to give any further proof of 
that statement than his own bare word; for there was no- 
body but himself in the office at the time, whereas the door 
porter, who distinctly remembered James ColHver's en- 
trance into the building, as distinctly remembered that up 
to the moment when evening brought ''knocking-off time" 
James Colliver had never, to his certain knowledge, come 
out of it ! 

The next amazing fact to be unearthed was that one of 
the office cleaners had found tucked under the stairs leading 
up to the top floor a sponge, which had beyond all possible 
question been used to wipe blood from something and had 
evidently been tucked there in a great hurry. The tliird 
amazing discovery took the astonishing shape of finding in 
an East End pawnbroker's shop every one of the missing 
articles, and positive proof that the man who had pledged 
them was certainly not in the smallest degree like James 
Colliver, but was evidently a person of a higher walk in 
life and more prosperous in appearance than the missing 
man had been since the days when he was a successful actor. 

These circumstances Cleek had just brought to Hght when 
Miss Larue, having foimd the gems, determined to drop the 


case, and refused thereafter so much as to discuss it with any 
living soul. 

That her reason for taking this unusual step had some- 
thing behind it which was of more moment than the mere 
fact that the jewels had been recovered and returned to 
their respective owners there could hardly be a doubt; for 
from that time onward her whole nature seemed to undergo 
a radical change, and, from being a brilliant, vivacious, 
cheery-hearted woman whose spirits were always of the 
highest and whose laughter was frequent, she developed 
suddenly into a silent, smileless, mournful one, who shrank 
from all society but that of her lost brother's orphaned son, 
and who seemed to be oppressed by the weight of some 
unconfessed cross and the shadow of some secret woe. 

Such were the facts regarding the singular CoUiver case 
at the time when Cleek laid it down — unprobed, unsolved, 
as deep a mystery in the end as it had been in the begin- 
ning — and such they still were when, on this day, at this 
critical time and after an interval of eleven months, Mr. 
Maverick Narkom came to ask him to pick it up again. 

*'And with an element of fresh mystery added to compli- 
cate it more than ever, dear chap," he declared, rather ex- 
citedly. ^'For, as the father vanished eleven months ago, 
so yesterday the son, too, disappeared. In the same manner 
— from the same point — in the selfsame building and in 
the same inexpHcable and almost supernatural way! Only 
that in this instance the mystery is even more incompre- 
hensible, more like * magic ' than ever. For the boy is 
known to have been shown by a porter into a room almost 
entirely surrounded by glass — a room whose interior was 
clearly visible to two persons who were looking into it at the 
time — and then and there to have completely vanished 
without anybody knowing when, where, or how." 



WHAT'S that?" rapped out Cleek, sitting up sharply. 
His interest had been trapped, just as Mr. Narkom 
knew that it would. "Vanished from a glass-room into 
which people were looking at the time? And yet nobody 
saw the manner of his going, do you say?" 

"That's it precisely. But the most astonishing part of 
the business is the fact that, whereas the porter can bring 
at least three witnesses to prove that he showed the boy into 
that glass-room, and at least one to testify that he heard him 
speak to the occupant of it, the two watchers who were look- 
ing into the place at the time are willing to swear on oath 
that he not only did not enter the place, but that the room 
was absolutely vacant at the period, and remained so for 
at least an hour afterward. If that isn't a mystery that 
will want a bit of doing to solve, dear chap, then you may 
call me a Dutchman." 

"Hum-m-m!" said Cleek reflectively. "How, then, am 
I to regard the people who give this cross testimony — as 
lunatics or liars?" 

"Neither, b'gad!" asseverated Narkom, emphatically. 
"I'll stake my reputation upon the sanity and the truthful- 
ness of every mother's son and every father's daughter of 
the lot of them! The porter who says he showed the boy 
into the glass-room I've known since he was a nipper — his 
dad was one of my Yard men years ago — and the two peo- 
ple who were looking into the place at the time, and who 
swear that it was absolutely emxpty and that the lad never 
came into it Look here, old chap, I'll let you into a 



bit of family history. One of them is a distant relative of 
Mrs. Narkom — an aunt, in fact, v\^ho's rather down in the 
world, and does a bit of dressmaking for a living. The other 
is her daughter. They are two of the straightest-living, 
most upright, and truly religious women that ever drew the 
breath of life, and they wouldn't, either of 'em, tell a lie 
for all the money in England. There's where the puzzle 
of the thing comes in. You simply have got to believe that 
that porter showed the boy into that room, for there are 
reliable witnesses to prove it, and he has no living reason 
to lie about it; and you have got to believe that those two 
women are speaking the truth v/hen they say that it was 
empty at that period and remained empty for an hour after- 
ward. Also — if you will take on the case and solve at the 
same time the mystery attending the disappearance of both 
father and son — you will have to find out where that boy 
went to, through whose agency he vanished, and for what 

''A tall order that," said Cleek with one of his curious, 
one-sided smiles. * 'Still, of course, mysteries which are 
humanly possible of creation are humanly possible of solu- 
tion, and — there you are. Who is the client? Miss 
Larue? If so, how is one to be sure that she will not again 
call a halt, and spoil a good 'case' before it is halfway to 

''For the best of reasons," replied Narkom earnestly. 
^'Hers is not the sole 'say' in the present case. Added to 
which, she is now convinced that her suspicions in the for- 
mer one were not well grounded. The truth has come out 
at last, Cleek. She stopped all further inquiry into the 
mysterious disappearance of her brother because she had 
reason to believe that the elder Mr. Trent had killed him 
for the purpose of getting possession of those jewels to tide 
over a financial crisis consequent upon the failure of some 
heavy speculations upon the stock n?arket. She held her 


peace and dosed up the case because she loves and is en- 
gaged to be married to his son, and she would have lost 
everything in the world sooner than hurt his belief in the 
honour and integrity of his father." 

"What a ripping girl! Gad, but there are some splendid 
women in the world, are there not, Mr. Narkom? What 
has happened, dear friend, to change her opinion regarding 
the elder Mr. Trent's guilt?" 

"The disappearance of the son under similar circum- 
stances to that of the father, and from the same locahty. 
She knows now that the elder Mr. Trent can have no part 
in the matter, since he is at present in America, the financial 
crisis has been safely passed, and the son — who could have 
no possible reason for injuring the lad, who is, indeed, re- 
markably fond of him, and by whose invitation he visited 
the building — is solely in charge and as wildly anxious as 
man can be to have the abominable thing cleared up with- 
out delay. He now knows why she so abruptly closed up 
the other case, and he is determined that nothing under 
heaven shall interfere with the prosecution of this one to 
the very end. It is he who is the cHent, and both he and 
his fiancee will be here presently to lay the full details 
before you." 

"Here!" Cleek leaned forward in his chair with a sort 
of lunge as he flung out the word, and there was a snap in 
his voice that fairly stung. "Good heavens above, man! 
They mustn't come here. Get word to them at once and 
stop them." 

"It wouldn't be any use trying, I'm afraid, old chap; I 
expect they are here already. At all events, I told them to 
watch from the other side of the way until they saw me enter, 
and then to come in and go straightway to the pubKc tea- 
room and wait until I brought you to them." 

"Well, of all the insane Whatever prompted you 

,to do a madman's trick like that? A pubHc character 


like Miss Larue, a woman whom half London knows by 
sight, who will be the target for every eye in the tearoom, 
and the news of whose presence in the hotel will be all over 
the place in less than no time ! Were you out of your head?'' 

^' Good lud! Why, I thought I'd be doing the very thing 
that would please you, dear chap," bleated the superintend- 
ent, despairingly. "It seemed to me such a natural thing 
for an actress to take tea at a hotel — that it would look so 
innocent and open that nobody would suspect there was 
anything behind it. And you always say that things least 
hidden are hidden the most of all." 

Cleek struck his tongue against his teeth with a sharp, 
clicking sound indicative of mild despair. There were times 
when Mr. Narkom seemed utterly hopeless. 

"Well, if it's done, it's done, of course; and there seems 
only one way out of it," he said. "Nip down to the tearoom 
as quickly as possible, and if they are there bring them up 
here. It's only four o'clock and there's a chance that Walde- 
mar may not have returned to the hotel yet. Heaven 
knows, I hope not ! He'd spot you in a tick, in a weak dis- 
guise like that." 

"Then why don't you go down yourself and fetch them 
up, old chap? He'd never spot you. Lord! your own 
mother wouldn't know you from Adam in this spifhng get- 
up. And it wouldn't matter a tinker's curse then if Walde- 
mar was back or not." 

"It would matter a great deal, my friend — don't deceive 
yourself upon that point. For one thing. Captain Maltra- 
vers is registered at the ofHce as having just arrived from 
India after a ten years' absence, and ten years ago Miss 
Margaret Larue was not only unknown to fame, but must 
have been still in pinafores, so how w^as he to have made her 
acquaintance? Then, too, she doesn't expect to see me 
without you, so I should have to introduce myself and stop 
to explain matters — yes, and even risk her com^panion 


getting excited and saying something indiscreet, and those 
are rather dangerous affairs in a public tearoom, with every- 
body's eyes no doubt fixed upon the lady. No, you must 
attend to the matter yourself, my friend; so nip off and be 
about it. If the lady and her companion are there, just 
whisper them to say nothing, but follow you immediately. 
If they are not there, sHp out and warn them not to come. 
Look sharp — the situation is tickHsh! " 

And just how tickKsh Mr. Narkom realized when he 
descended and made his way to the pubKc tearoom. For 
the usual four o'clock gathering of shoppers and sightseers 
was there in full force, the well-filled room was like a hive 
full of buzzing bees who were engaged in imparting confi- 
dences to one another, the name of ''Margaret Larue" was 
being whispered here, there and everywhere, and all eyes 
were directed toward a far corner where at a little round 
table Margaret Larue herself sat in company with Mr. Har- 
rison Trent engaged in making a feeble pretence of enjoy- 
ing a tea which neither of them wanted and upon which 
neither was bestowing a single thought. 

Narkom spotted them at once, made his way across the 
crowded room, said something to them in a swift, low whis- 
per, and immediately became at once the most envied and 
most unpopular person in the whole assembly; for Miss 
Larue and her companion arose instantly and, leaving some 
pieces of silver on the table, walked out with him and 
robbed the room of its chief attraction. 

All present had been deeply interested in the entire pro- 
ceeding, but none more so than the tall, distinguished look- 
ing foreign gentleman seated all alone at the exactly op- 
posite end of the room from the table where Miss Larue and 
her companion had been located; for his had been the tensest 
kind of interest fromi the very instant Mr. Narkom had 
made his appearance, and remained so to the last. 

Even after the three persons had vanished from the room, 

" Count Irma has told," said Narkom. " It's all out at last and . . . 
I know now. I'm to lose you " 


he continued to stare at the doorway through which they 
had passed, and the rather elaborate tea he had ordered 
remained wholly untouched. A soft step sounded near him 
and a soft voice broke in upon his unspoken thoughts. 

*'Is not the tea to Monsieur's liking?" it inquired v/ith all 
the deference of the Continental waiter. And that awoke 
him from his abstraction. 

*'Yes — quite, thank you. By the way, that was Miss 
Larue who just left the room, was it not, Philippe ? " 

"Yes, JVIonsieur — the great Miss Larue: the most famous 
of all Enghsh actresses." 

" So I understand. And the lame man who came in and 
spoke to her — who is he? Not a guest of the hotel, I am 
sure, since I have never seen him here before." 

*'I do not know. Monsieur, who the gentleman is. It- 
shall be the first I shall see of him ever. It may be, how- 
ever, that he is a new arrival. They would know at the 
office, if Monsieur le Baron desires me to inquire." 

*' Yes — do. I fancy I have seen him before. Find out 
for me who he is." 

Philippe disappeared like a fleet shadow. After an 
absence of about two minutes, he came back with the 
desired intelligence. 

"No, Monsieur le Baron, the gentleman is not a guest," 
he announced. "But he is visiting a guest. The name is 
Yard. He arrived about a quarter of an hour ago and sent 
his card in to Captain Maltravers, who at once took him up 
to his room." 

"Captain Maltravers? So! That will be the military 
officer from India, will it not? " 

"Yes, Monsieur; the one with the fair hair and moustache 
who lunched to-day at the table adjoining Monsieur le 
Baron's own." 

"Ah, to be sure. And 'passed the time of day' with me, 
as they say in this peculiar language. I remember the 


gentleman perfectly. Thank you very much. There's some- 
thing to pay you for your trouble.'^ 

*' Monsieur le Baron is too generous! Is there any other 
service " 

'^No, no — nothing, thank you. I have all that I re- 
quire," interposed the ^' Baron" with a gesture of dismissal. 

And evidently he had; for five minutes later he walked 
into the office of the hotel, and said to the clerk, ''Make out 
my bill, please — I shall be leaving England at once," and 
immediately thereafter walked into a telephone booth, con- 
sulted his notebook, and rang up 253480 Soho, and, on get- 
ting it, began to talk rapidly and softly to some one who 
understood French. 

Meantime Mr. Narkom, unaware of the little powder 
train he had unconsciously lighted, had gone on up the stairs 
with his two companions — purposely avoiding the lift that 
he might explain matters as they went — piloted them safely 
to the suite occupied by ''Captain Maltravers," and at the 
precise moment when "Baron Rodolf de Montravanne" 
walked into the telephone booth, Cleek was meeting Miss 
Larue for the first time since those distressing days of eleven 
months ago, and meeting Mr. Harrison Trent for the first 
time ever. 


CLEEK found young Trent an extremely handsome 
man of about three-and- thirty-, of a highly strung, ner- 
vous temperament, and with an irritating habit of running 
his fingers through his hair when excited. Also, it seemed 
impossible for him to sit still for half a minute at a stretch,' 
he must be constantly hopping up only to sit down again, 
and moving restlessly about as if he were doing his best ta 
retain his composure and found it difficult with Cleek's calm 
eyes fixed constantly upon him. 

''I want to tell you something about that bloodstained 
sponge business, Mr. Cleek," he said in his abrupt, jerky, 
uneasy manner. ^'I never heard a word about it until last 
night, when Miss Larue confessed her former suspicions 
of my dear old dad, and gave me all the details of the mat- 
ter. That sponge had nothing to do with the affair at all. 
It was I that tucked it under the staircase where it was 
found, and I did so on the day before James CoUiver's dis- 
appearance. The blood that had been on it was mine, not 

*'I see," said Cleek, serenely. "The explanation, of 
course, is the good, old tried-and-true refuge of the story- 
writers — namely, a case of nose-bleeding, is it not?" 

"Yes," admitted Trent. "But with this difference: mine 
wasn't an accidental affair at all — it was the result of 
getting a Jolly good hiding; and I made an excuse to get 
away and hop out of town, so that the dad wouldn't know 
about it nor see how I'd been battered. The fact is, I met 
one of our carmen in the upper hall. He was as drunk as a 



lord, and when I took him to task about it and threatened 
him with discharge, he said something to me that I thought 
needed a jolly sight more than words by way of chastise- 
ment, so I nipped off my coat and sailed into him. It 
turned out that he was the better man, and gave me all that 
I'd asked for in less than a minute's time; so I shook hands 
with him, told him to bundle off home and sleep himself 
sober, and that if he wouldn't say anything about the matter 
I wouldn't either, and he could turn up for work in the 
morning as usual. Then I washed up, shoved the sponge 
under the staircase, and nipped off out of town; because, 
you know, it would make a deuced bad impression if any 
of the other workmen should find out that a member of the 
firm had been thrashed by one of the em^ployees — and 
Dray CO tt had done me up so beautifully that I was a sight 
for the gods." 

The thing had been so frankly confessed that, in spite of 
the fact of ha\dng in the beginning been rather repelled by 
him, Cleek could not but experience a feeling of liking for 
the man. *'So that's how it happened, is it?" he said, with 
a laugh. ''It is a brave man, Mr. Trent, that will resist the 
opportunity to make himself a hero in the presence of the 
lady he loves; and I hope I may be permitted to congratu- 
late Miss Larue on the wisdom of her choice. But now, if 
you please, let us get down at once to the details of the 
melancholy business we have in hand. Mr. Narkom has 
been telKng me the amazing story of the boy's \isit to the 
building and of his strange disappearance therein, but I 
should like to have a few further facts, if you will be so kind. 
What took the boy to the building, in the first place? I am 
told he went there upon your invitation, but I confess that 
that seems rather odd to me. Why should a man of busi- 
ness want a boy to visit him during business hours? " 

"Good Lord, man! I couldn't have let him see what he 
wanted to see if he didn't come during business hours, could 


I? But that's rather ambiguous, so I'll make haste to put 
it plainer. Young Stan — his Christian name is Stanley, 
as I suppose you know — young Stan is mad to learn the 
business of theatrical property making, and particularly 
that of the manufacture of those wax effigies, et cetera, 
which we supply for the use of drapers in their show win- 
dows; and as he is now sixteen and of an age to begin think- 
ing of some trade or profession for the future, I thought it 
would save Miss Larue putting up a jolly big premium to 
have him taught outside if we took him into our business 
free, so I invited him to come and look roimd and see if he 
thought he'd like it when he came to look into the messy 

*'Well, he came rather late yesterday afternoon, and I'd 
taken him round for just about ten or a dozen minutes when 
word was suddenly brought to me that the representative 
of one of the biggest managers in the country had just called 
with reference to an important order, so, of course, I put 
back to the office as quickly as I could foot it, young Stan 
quite naturally following me, as he didn't know his way 
about the place alone, and, being a modest, retiring sort of 
boy, didn't like facing the possibiHty of blundering into 
what might prove to be private quarters, and things of that 
sort. He said as much to me at the time. 

''Well, when I got back to the office, I soon found that 
the business with my visitor was a matter that would take 
some time to settle — you can't give a man an estimate all 
on a jump, and without doing a bit of figuring, you know — ■ 
so I told young Stan that he might cut off and go over the 
place on his own, if he liked, as it had been arranged that, 
when knocking-off time came, I was to go back with him to 
Miss Larue's flat, where we all were to have supper together. 
When I told him that, he asked eagerly if he might go 
up to the wax-figure department, as he was particularly 
anxious to see Loti at work, and so " 


''Loti!" Cleek flung in the word so sharply that Trent 
gave a nervous start. ^' Just a moment, please, before you 
go any further, Mr. Trent. Sorry to interrupt, but, teil me, 
please: is the man who models your show-window effigies 
named Loti, then? Is, eh? Hum-m! Any connection 
by chance with that once famous Itahan worker in wax, 
Giuseppe Loti — chap that used to make those splendid 
wax tableaux for the Eden Musee in Paris some eighteen 
or twenty years ago? '' 

*'Same chap. Went all to pieces all of a sudden — clear 
off his head for a time, I've heard — in the very height of 
his career, because his wife left him. Handsome French 
woman — years younger than he — ran off with another 
chap and took every blessed thing of value she could lay her 
hands upon when — but maybe you've heard the story?" 

''I have," said Cleek. "It is one that is all too common 
on the Continent. Also, it happened that I was in Paris 
at the time of the occurrence. And so you have that great 
Giuseppe Loti at the head of your waxwork department, 
eh? What a come-down in the world for him ! Poor devil! 
I thought he was dead ages ago. He dropped out suddenly 
and disappeared from France entirely after that affair wdtb 
his unfaithful wife. The rumour was that he had com- 
mitted suicide; although that seemed as improbable as it 
now turns out to be, in the face of the fact that on the night 
after his wife left him he turned up at the Cafe Royal and 

pubHcly No matter ! Go on with the case, please. 

What about the boy?" 

''Let's see, now, where was I ? " said Trent, knotting up his 
brow. "Oh, ah! I recollect — just where he asked me if 
he could go up and see Loti at work. Of course, I said that 
he could; there wasn't any reason why I shouldn't, as the 
place is open to inspection always, so I opened the door and 
showed him the way to the staircase leading up to the glass- 
room, and then went to the speaking-tube and called up to 


Loti to expect him, and to treat him nicely, as he was the 
nephew of the great Miss Larue and would, in time, be 
mine also." 

*' Was there any necessity for taking that precaution, Mr. 

^'Yes. Loti has developed a dashed bad temper since 
last autumn and is very eccentric, very irritable — not a bit 
like the solemn, sedate old Johnnie he used to be. Even his 
work has deteriorated, I think, but one daren't criticise it 
or he fhes into a temper and threatens to leave." 

*'And you don't wish him to, of course — his name must 
stand for something." 

^'It stands for a great deal. It's one of our biggest cards. 
We can conmiand twice as much for a Loti figure as for 
one made by any other waxworker. So we humour him in 
his little eccentricities and defer to him a great deal. Also, 
as he prefers to live on the premises, he saves us money in 
other ways. Serves for a watchman as well, you under- 

*'0h, he lives on the premises, does he? Where? Li 
the glass- room?" 

^'Oh, no; that would not be possible. The character as 
well as the position of that renders it impossible as a place 
of habitation. He uses it after hours as a sort of sitting- 
room, to be sure, and has partly fitted it up as one, but he 
sleeps, eats, and dresses in a room on the floor below. 

''Not an adjoining one? " 

''Oh, no; an adjoining room would be an impossibility. 
Our building is an end one, standing on the corner of a short 
passage which leads to nothing but a narrow alley running 
along parallel with the back of our premises, and the glass- 
room covers nearly the entire roof of it. As a matter of 
fact, Mr. Cleek, although we call it that at the works, th© 
term Glass Room is a misnomer. In reality, it's nothing 
more nor less than a good sized 'lean-to' greenhouse that 



the dad bought and had taken up there in sections, and its 
rear elevation rests against the side wall of a still higher 
building than ours, next door — the premises of Storminger 
the carriage builder, to be exact. But look here: perhaps 
I can make the situation clearer by a rough sketch. Got 
a lead pencil and a bit of paper, anybody? Oh, thanks very 
much, dear. One can always rely upon yoii. Now, look 
here, Mr. Cleek — this is the way of it. You mustn't mind 
if it's a crude thing, because, you know, I'm a rotten bad 
draughtsman and can't draw for nuts. But all the same, 
this will do at a pinch." 

Here he leaned over the table in the centre of the room 
and, taking the pencil and the blank back of the letter which 
Miss Larue had supplied, made a crude outhne sketch thus: 

"There you are," he said suddenly, lajdng the crude 
drawing on the table before Cleek, and with him bending 
over it. "You are supposed to be looking at the houses 


from the main thoroughfare, don't you know, and, there- 
fore, at the front of them. This tall building on the left 
marked i is Storminger's; the low one, number 2, adjoining, 
is ours; and that cageHke-looking thing, 3, on the top of it, 
is the glass-room. Now, along the front of it here, where 
I have put the long line with an X on the end, there runs a 
wooden partition with a door leading into the room itself, 
so that it's impossible for anybody on the opposite side of 
the main thoroughfare to see into the place at all. But 
that is not the case with regard to people living on the 
opposite side of the short passage (this is here, that I've 
marked 4), because there's nothing to obstruct the "view 
but some rubbishy old lace curtains which Xoti, in his en- 
deavour to make the place what he calls homeHke, would 
insist upon hanging, and tliey are so blessed thin that any- 
body can look right through them and see all over the place. 
Of course, though, there are bhnds, which he can pull down 
on the inside if the sun gets too strong; and when they are 
down, nobody can see into the glass-room at all. Pardon? 
Oh, we had it constructed of glass, Mr. Narkom, because of 
the necessity for having all the Hght obtainable in doing the 
minute work on some of the fine tableaux we produce for 
execution purposes. We are doing one now — The Relief 
of Lucknow — for the big exhibition that's to be given next 

month at Olympia and The place marked 6 at the 

back of our building? Oh, that's the narrow alley of which 
I spoke. We've a back door opening into it, but it's prac- 
tically useless, because the alley is so narrow one can't drive 
a vehicle through it. It's simply a right of way that can't 
legally be closed and runs from Croom Street on the right 
just along as far as Sturgiss Lane on the left. Not fifty 
people pass through it in a day's time. 

''But to come back to the short passage, Mr. Cleek. Ob- 
serve, there are no windows at all on the side of our build- 
ing, here : Number 2. There were, once upon a time, but we 


had them bricked up, as we use that side for a ^paint frame' 
with a movable bridge so that it can be used for the purpose 
of painting scenery and drop-curtains. But there are win- 
dows in the side of the house marked 5; and directly op- 
posite the point where I've put the arrow there is one which 
belongs to a room occupied by a Mrs. Sherman and her 
daughter — people who do ^ bushel work' for wholesale 
costume houses. Now, it happens that at the exact time 
when the porter says he showed young Stan into the glass- 
room those two women were sitting at work by that win- 
dow, and, the bHnds not being drawn, could see smack into 
the place, and are willing to take their oath that there was 
no Hving soul in it." 

*'How do they fix it as being, as you say, 'the exact time,' 
Mr. Trent? If they couldn't see the porter come up to the 
giass-room with the boy, how can they be sure of that?'* 

''Oh, that's easily explained: There's a church not a 
great way distant. It has a clock in the steeple which 
strikes the hours, halves, and quarters. Mrs. Sherman says 
that when it chimed half-past four she was not only looking 
into the glass-room, but was calHng her daughter's attention 
to the fact that, whereas some few minutes previously she 
had seen Loti go out of the place, leaving a great pile of 
reference plates and scraps of material all over the floor, 
and he had never, to her positive knowledge, come back 
into it, there was the room looking as tidy as possible, and, 
in the middle of it, a table with a vase of pink roses upon it, 
which she certainly had not seen there when he left." 

' ' Hallo ! Hallo ! ' ' interjected Cleek rather sharply. ' ' Let's 
have that again, please!" and he sat listening intently 
while Trent repeated the statement; then, of a sudden, 
he gave his head an upward twitch, slapped his thigh, 
and, leaning back in his seat, added with a brief little 
laugh, ''Well, of all the bhthering idiots! And a simple 
little thing like that!" 


"Like what, Mr. Cleek?" queried Trent, in amazement. 
^' You don't surely mean to say that you can make anything 
important out of a table and a vase of flowers? Because, 
I may tell you that Loti is mad on flowers, and always has 
a vase of them in the room somewhere." 

"Does he, indeed? Natural inclination of the artistic 
temperament, I dare say. But never mind, get on with the 
story. Mrs. Sherman fixes the hour when she noticed this 
as half -past four, you say? How, then, does the porter who 
showed the boy into the glass-room fix it, may I ask?" 

"By the same means precisely — the striking of the 
church clock. He remembers hearing it just as he reached 
the partition door, and was, indeed, at particular pains to 
take out his watch to see if it talKed with it. Also, three 
of our scene painters were passing along the hall at the foot 
of the short flight of steps leading up to the glass-room at 
the time. They were going out to tea; and one of them 
sang out to him laughingly, 'Hallo, Ginger, how does that 
two-shilHng turnip of yours make it? Time for tea at 
Buckingham Palace? ' for he had won the watch at a singing 
contest only the night before, and his mates had been chaff- 
ing him about it all day. In that manner the exact time 
of his going to the door with the boy is fixed, and with three 
persons to corroborate it. A second later the porter saw 
the boy push open the swing-door and walk into the place, 
and as he turned and went back downstairs he distinctly 
heard him say, 'Good afternoon, sir. Mr. Trent said I 
might come up and watch, if you don't mind.' " 

"Did he hear anybody reply?" 

"No, he did not. He heard no one speak but the boy." 

"I see. So, then, there is no actual proof that Loti was 
in there at the time, which, of course, makes the testimony 
of Mrs. Sherman and her daughter appear reliable when 
they say that the room was empty." 

"Still the boy was there if Loti wasn't, Mr. Cleek. 


There's proof enough that he did go into the place even 
though those two women declare that the room was empty." 

^' Quite so, quite so. And when two and two don't make 
four, 'there's something rotten in the state of Denmark.' 
WTiat does Loti himself say with regard to the circumstance? 
Or hasn't he been spoken to about it? " 

''My hat, yes! I went to him about it the very first 
thing. He says the boy never put in an appearance, to his 
knowledge; that he never saw him. In fact, that just be- 
fore half-past four he was taken ^vith a violent attack of sick 
headache, the result of the fumes rising from the w^ax he was 
melting to model figures for the tableau, together with the 
smell of the chemicals used in preparing the background, 
and that he went down to his room to lie down for a time 
and dropped off to sleep. As a matter of fact, he was there 
in his room sleeping when, at half-past six, I went for the 
boy, and, finding the glass-room vacated, naturally set out 
to hunt up Loti and question him about the matter." 

''When you called up to the glass-room through the 
speaking-tube, to say that the boy was about to go up, who 
answered you — Loti ? " 


"At what tim.e was that? Or can't you say positively?" 

"Not to the fraction of a moment. But I should say that 
it was about four or five minutes before the boy got there — - 
say about five-and-twenty minutes past four. It wouldn't 
take him longer to get up to the top of the house, I fancy, 
and he certainly did not stop at any of the other depart- 
ments on the way." 

"Queer, isn't it, that the m_an should not have stopped to 
so much as welcome the boy after you had been at such 
pains to tell him to be nice to him? Does he offer any ex- 
planation on that score? " 

"Yes. He says that, as his head was so bad, he knew 
that he would probably be cross and crotchety; so as I had 


asked him to be kind, he thought the best thing he could 
do was to leave a note on the table for the boy, telling him 
to make himself at home and to examine anything he pleased, 
but to be sure not to touch the cauldron in which the wax 
was simmering, as it tilted readily and he might get scalded. 
He was sorry to have to go, but his head ached so badly that 
he really had to lie down for a while. 

^'That note, I may tell you, was lying on the table when I 
went up to the glass-room and failed to find the boy. It 
was that which told me where to go in order to find Loti 
and question him. I'll do him the credit of stating that 
when he heard of the boy's mysterious disappearance he 
flung his headache and his creature comforts to the winds 
and joined in the eager hunt for him as excitedly and as 
strenuously as anybody. He went through the building 
from top to bottom; he lifted every trapdoor, crept into 
every nook and corner and hole and box into which it might 
be possible for the poor little chap to have fallen. But 
it was all useless, Mr. Cleek — every bit of it! The boy 
had vanished, utterly and completely; from the minute 
the porter saw him pass the swing-door and go into the glass- 
room we never discovered even the slightest trace of him, 
nor have we been able to do so since. He has gone, he has 
vanished, as completely as if he had melted into thin air, 
and if there is any ghost of a clue to his whereabouts exist- 
ing " 

"Let us go and see if we can unearth it," interrupted 
Cleek, rising. ''Mr. Narkom, is the limousine within easy 

''Yes, waiting in Tavistock Street, dear chap. I told 
Lennard to be on the lookout for us." 

"Good! Then if Miss Larue will allow Mr. Trent to 
escort her as far as the pavement, and he will then go on 
alone to his place of business and await us there, you and I 
will leave the hotel by the back way and join him as soon 


as possible. Leave by the front entrance if you be so kind; 
and — pardon, one last word, Mr. Trent, before you go. At 
the time when this boy's father vanished in much the same 
way, eleven months ago, you had, I beheve, a door porter 
at your establishment name Felix Murchison. Is that 
man still in your employ?" 

''No, Mr. Cleek. He left about a week or so after James 
ColHver's disappearance." 

''Know where he is?" 

"Not the slightest idea. As a matter of fact, he suddenly 
inherited some money, and said he was going to emigrate to 
America. But I don't know if he did or not. Why? " 

"Oh, nothing in particular — only that I shouldn't be 
surprised if the person who suppKed that money was the 
pawnbroker who received in pledge the jewels which your 
father handed over to James ColHver, and that the simi 
which Felix Murchison 'inherited' so suddenly was the 
^^150 advanced upon those gems." 

"How utterly absurd! My dear Mr. Cleek, you must 
surely remember that the pawnbroker said the chap who 
pawned the jewels was a gentlemanly appearing person, of 
good manners and speech, and Murchison is the last man 
in the world to answer to that description. A great hulk- 
ing, bull-necked, ilHterate animal of that sort, without 
an H in his vocabulary and with no more manners than a 

"Precisely why I feel so certain now that the pawnbro- 
ker's 'advance' was paid over to him/' said Cleek, with a 
twitch of the shoulder. "Live and learn, my friend, Uve 
and learn. Eleven months ago I couldn't for the life of me 
understand why those jewels had been pawned at all; to-day 
I realize that it was the only possible course. Miss Larue, 
my compliments. Au revoir." And he bowed her out of 
the room with the grace of a courtier, standing well out of 
sight from the hallway imtil the door had closed behind her 


and her companion and he was again alone with the super- 

*'Now for it! as they used to say in the old melodramas/* 
he laughed, stepping sharply to a wardrobe and producing, 
first, a broad-brimmed cavalry hat, which he immediately 
put on, and then a pair of bright steel handcuffs. ''We 
may have use for this very effective type of wristlets, Mr. 
Narkom; so it's well to go prepared for emergencies. Now 
then, off with you while I lock he door. That's the way to 
the staircase. Nip down it to the American bar. There's a 
passage from that leading out to the Embankment Gar- 
dens. A taxi from there will whisk us along Savoy Street, 
across the Strand and up Wellington Street to Tavistock 
in less than no time; so we may look to be with Lennard 
inside of another ten minutes." 

''Righto!" gave back the superintendent. "And I can 
get rid of this dashed rig as soon as we're in the limousine. 
But, I say; any ideas, old chap — eh? " 

"Yes, two or three. One of them is that this is going to 
be one of the simplest cases I ever tackled. Lay you a 
sovereign to a sixpence, Mr. Narkom, that I solve the riddle 
of that glass-room before they ring up the curtain of any 
theatre in London to-night. What's that? Lying? No, 
certainly not. There's been no lying in the matter at all; 
it isn't a case of that sort. The pawnbroker did not He; the 
porter who says he showed the boy into the room did not 
lie ; and the two women who looked into it and saw nothing 
but an empty room did not He either. The only thing that 
did He was a vase of pink roses — a bunch of natural An- 
aniases that tried to make people believe that they had 
been blooming and keeping fresh ever since last August!" 

"Good Lord! you don't surely think that that Loti 
chap " 

" Gently, gently, my friend; don't let yourself get excited. 
Besides, I may be all at sea, for all my cocksureness. I 


don't think I am, but — one never knows. I'll tell you 
one thing, however: The man with whom Madame Loti 
eloped had, for the purpose of carrying on the intrigue, 
enlisted as a student under her husband, and gulled the 
poor fool by pretending that he wished to learn waxwork 
making, when his one desire was to make love to the man's 
worthless wife. When they eloped, and Loti knew for the 
first time what a dupe he had been, he pubHcly swore, 
in the open room of the Cafe Royal, that he would never 
rest until he had run that man down and had exterminated 
him and every Hving creature in whose veins his blood 
flowed. The man was an English actor, Mr. Narkom. He 
posed under the nom de theatre of Jason Monteith — his 
real name was James Colliver! Step livelier, please — • 
we're dawdling!" 


THEY that climb the highest have the farthest to fall. 
It was after five o'clock when the limousine ar- 
rived at the premises of Trent & Son, and Cleek, guided by 
the junior member of the firm and accompanied by Super- 
intendent Narkom, climbed the steep stairs to the housetop 
and was shown into the glass-room. 

His first impression, as the door swung inward, was of a 
scent of flowers so heavy as to be oppressive; his second, of 
entering into a light so brilliant that it seemed a very glare 
of gold, for the low-dropped sun, which yellowed all the sky, 
flooded the place with a radiance which made him bHnk, 
and it was some little time before his eyes could accustom 
themselves to it sufficient to let him discover that the old 
Italian waxworker was there, busy on his latest tableau. 

Cleek bhnked and looked at the old man, serenely at first, 
then blinked and looked again, conscious of an overwhelm- 
ing sense of amazement and defeat for just one fraction of 
a minute, and that some of his cocksure theories regarding 
the case had suddenly been knocked into a cocked hat. 

No wonder Mr. Harrison Trent had spoken of deteriora- 
tion in the art of this once celebrated modeller. No won- 

The man was not Giuseppe Loti at all! — not that world- 
famed worker in wax who had sworn in those bitter other 
days to have the life of the vanished James Colliver. 



C LEEK'S equanimity did not desert him, however. It 
was one of his strong points that he always kept his 
mental balance even when his most promising theories were 
deracinated. He therefore showed not the slightest trace 
of the disappointment with which this utterly unexpected 
discovery had filled him, but, with the most placid exterior 
imaginable, suffered himself to be introduced to the old 
waxworker, who was at the time working assiduously upon 
the huge tableau-piece designed for the forthcoming Indian 
Exhibition, a well-executed assembly of figures which oc- 
cupied a considerable portion of the rear end of the glass- 
room, and represented that moment when the rehef force 
burst through the stockade at Lucknow and came to the 
rescue of the beleaguered garrison. 

''A couple of gentlemen from Scotland Yard, Loti, who 
have come to look into the matter of young ColHver's dis- 
appearance," was the way in which Trent made that intro- 
duction. *'You can go on with your work; they won't 
interfere with you." 

''Welcome, gentlemen — most welcome," said Loti, with 
that courtesy which Continental people never quite forget; 
then nodded, and went on with his work as he had been 
told, adding, with a mournful shake of the head: "Ah! a 
strange business that, signori; an exceedingly strange busi- 

"Very," agreed Cleek off-handedly and from the other 
end of the room. "Rippin' quarters, these, signor; and 
now that I've seen 'em I don't mind confessing that my pet 



theory has gone all to smash and I'm up a gum-tree, so to 
speak. I'd an idea, you know, that there might be a slid- 
ing-panel or a trapdoor which you chaps here might have 
overlooked, and down which the boy might have dropped, 
or maybe gone on a little explorin' expedition of his own, 
don't you know, and hadn't been able to get back." 

''Well, of all the idiotic ideas — ," began Trent, but was 
suffered to get no further. 

"Yes, isn't it?" agreed Cleek, with his best blithering- 
idiot air. "I realize that, now that I see your floor's of 
concrete. Necessary, I suppose, on account of the chemi- 
cals and the inflammable nature of the wax? You could 
have a rippin' old flare-up here if that stuff was to catch fire 
from a dropped match or anything of that sort — eh, what? 
Blest if I can see" — turning slowly on his heel and looking 
all round the room — "a ghost of a place where the young 
nipper could have got. It's a facer for me. But, I say" 
— as if suddenly struck with an idea — "you don't think 
that he nipped something valuable and cut off with it, do 
you? Didn't miss any money or anything of that sort which 
you'd left lying about, did you, Mr. — er — Lotus, eh?" 

"Loti, if you please, signor. I had indeed hoped that my 
name was well known enough to — Potiffe! No, I miss 
nothing — I miss not so much as a pin. I am told he shall 
not have been that kind of a boy." And then, with a shake 
of the head and a pitying glance toward the author of these 
two asinine theories regarding the strange disappearance, 
returned to his work of putting the finishing touches to a 
recumbent figure representing a dead soldier lying in the 
foreground of the tableau. 

"Oh, well, you never can tell what boys will do; and it's 
an old saying that 'a good booty makes many a thief,'" 
replied Cleek airily. "Reckon I'll have to hunt up some- 
thing a bit more promising, then. Don't mind my poking 
about a bit, do you?" 


''Not in the slightest, signor," replied the Italian, and 
glanced sympathizingly up at Trent and gave his shoulders a 
significant shrug, as if to say: ''Is this the best that Scot- 
land Yard can turn out?" when Cleek began turning over 
costume plates and looking under books and scraps of 
material which lay scattered about the floor, and even took 
to examining the jugs and vases and tumblers m which the 
signor's bunches of cut flowers were placed. There were 
many of them — on tables and chairs and shelves, and even 
on the platform of the tableau itself — so many, in fact, 
that he was minded, by their profusion, of what Trent 
had said regarding the old waxworker's great love of flowers. 

He looked round the room, in an apparently perfunctory 
manner, but in reality with a photographic eye for its every 
detail, finding that it agreed in every particular with the 
description which Trent had given him. 

There were the cheap lace curtains all along the glazed 
side which overlooked the short passage leading down to the 
narrow alley, but they were of so thin a quality, and so 
scantily patterned, that the mesh did not obstruct the view 
in any manner, merely rendering it a trifle hazy; for he could 
himself see from where he stood the window in the side of 
the house opposite, and, seated at that window, Mrs. Sher- 
man and her daughter, busy at their endless sewing. 

And there, too, were the blinds — strong blue linen ones 
running on rings and cords — with which, as he had been 
told, it was possible to arrange the light as occasion required. 
They w^re fashioned somewhat after the manner of those 
seen in the studios of photographers — several sectional 
ones overhead and one long one for that side of the room 
which overlooked the short passage; and, as showing how 
minute was Cleek's inspection for all its seeming indiffer- 
ence, it may be remarked that he observed a peculiarity 
regarding that long bUnd which not one person in a hundred 
would have noticed. That is to say, that, whereas, when 


one looks at a window from the interior of a room, one in- 
variably finds that the blinds are against the glass, and that 
the curtains are so hung as to be behind them when viewed 
from the street, here was a case of the exactly opposite 
arrangement being put into force; to wit: It was the lace 
curtains which hung against the window panes and the big 
blind which was next the room, so that, if pulled down, a 
person standing within would see no lace curtains at all, 
while at the same time they would remain distinctly visible 
to anybody standing without. 

If this small discrepancy called for any comment, Cleek 
made none audibly; merely glanced at the bhnd and glanced 
away again, and went on examining the books and the vases 
of flowers, and continued his apparently aimless wandering 
about the room. 

Of a sudden, however, he did a singular thing, one which 
was fraught with much significance to Mr. Narkom, who 
knew the "signs" so well. His wandering had brought 
him within touching distance of the busy waxworker, who, 
just at that moment, half turned and stretched forth his 
hand to pick up a tool which had fallen to the floor, the 
act of recovering which sent his wrist protruding a bit be- 
yond the cuff of his working-blouse. What Narkom saw 
was the quick twitch of Cleek's eye in the direction of that 
hand, then its swift travelling to the man's face and trav- 
elling off again to other things; and he knew what was 
coming when his great ally began to pat his pockets and 
rummage about his person as if endeavouring to find some- 

"My luck!" said Cleek, with an impatient jerk of the 
head. "Not a blessed cigarette with me, Mr. Narkom; and 
you know what a duffer I am if I can't smoke when I'm 
trying to think. I say — nip out, will you, and get me a 
packet? There!" — scribbling something on a leaf from 
his notebook and pushing it into the superintendent's 


hand — "that's the brand I like. It's no use bringing me 
any other. Look 'em up for me, will you? There's a good 

Narkom made no reply, but merely left the room with the 
paper crumpled in his shut hand and went downstairs as 
fast as he could travel. What he did in the interval is a 
matter for further consideration. At present it need only 
be said that had any one looked across the short passage 
some eight or ten minutes after his departure Narkom 
might have been seen standing in the background of the 
room at whose window Mrs. Sherman and her daughter 
still sat sewing. 

Meanwhile Cleek appeared to have forgotten all about 
the matter which was the prime reason for his presence in 
the place and to have become absorbingly interested in the 
business of tableau making, for he pHed the old Itahan with 
endless questions relative to the one he was engaged in con- 

"Jip! You don't mean to tell me that you make the 
whole blessed thing yourself, do you — model the figures, 
group 'em, paint the blessed background, and all?" said 
he, with yokel-like amazement. "You do? My hat! but 
you're a wonder! That background's one of the best I've 
ever clapped eyes on. And the figures ! I could swear that 
that fellow bursting in with a sword in his hand was ahve if 
I didn't know better; and as for this dead Johnnie here in the 
foreground that you're working on, he's a marvel. What do 
you stuff the blessed things with? Or don't you stuff 'em 
at all?" 

"Oh, yes, signor, they are stuffed, all of them. There 
is a wicker framework covered with canvas; and inside cot- 
ton waste, old paper, straw." 

"You don't mean it! Well, I'm blest! Nothing but 
waste stuff and straw? Why, that fellow over there — the 
Sepoy chap with the gun in his hands Oh, good Lord ! 


just my blessed luck! I hope to heaven I haven't spoilt 
anything!" For, in leaning over to indicate the figure 
alluded to, he had blundered against the edge of the low 
platform, lost his balance, and sprawled over so awkwardly 
and abruptly that, but for the fact that the figure of the 
dead soldier was there for his hand to fall upon in time to 
check it, he must have pitched headlong into the very heart 
of the tableau, and done no end of damage. Fortunately, 
however, not a figure had been thrown down, and even the 
^'dead soldier" had stood the shock uncormnonly well, not 
even a dent showing, though Cleek had come down rather 
heavily and his palm had struck smack on the figure's chest. 

*^Tut! tut! tut! tut!" exclaimed the Italian with angry 
impatience. "Oh, do have a Httle care, signor! The 
bull in a china-shop is alone like this." And he turned his 
back upon this stupid blunderer, even though Cleek was 
profuse in his apologies, and looked as sorry as he declared. 
After a time, however, he went off on another tack, for 
Ms quick- travelling glance had shown him Mr. Narkom in 
the house across the passage, and he turned on his heel and 
walked away rapidly. 

"Tell you what it is: it's this blessed glare of Ught that's 
accountable," he said. "A body's likely to stumble over 
anything with the light streaming into the place in this 
fashion. What you want in here is a bit of shade — like 

Here he crossed the room hastily and, reaching up, pulled 
down the long window bHnd with a sudden jerk. But be- 
fore either Trent or the Italian could offer any objection to 
this interference with the conditions under which the wax- 
worker chose to conduct his labours, he seemed, himself, to 
reahze that the proceeding did not mend matters, and, re- 
leasing his hold upon the bhnd, let the spring of the roller 
carry it up again to its original position. As he did this 
he said with a peculiarly asinine air: 


''That's a bit worse than the other, by Jip! Makes the 
blessed place too dashed dark altogether; so it's not the 
light that's to blame after all." 

''I should have thought even a fool might have known 
that!" gave back the waxworker, almost savagely. ''The 
light is poor enough as it is. Look for yourself. It is only 
the afterglow — and even that is already decUning. Pouffe!^* 
And here, as if in disgust too great for words, he blew the 
breath from his lips with a sharp, short gust, and facing 
about again went back to his work on the tableau. 

Cleek made no response; nor yet did Trent. By this time 
even he had begun to think that accident more than brains 
must have been at the bottom of the man's many successes; 
that he was, in reality, nothing more than a blundering 
muddler; and, after another ten minutes of putting up with 
his crazy methods, had just made up his mind to appeal to 
Narkom for the aid of another detective, when the end which 
was all along being prepared came with such a rush that it 
fairly made his head swim. 

All that he was ever able clearly to recall of it was that 
there came a sudden sound of clattering footsteps rushing 
pell-mell up the staircase ; that the partition door was flung 
open abruptly to admit Mr. Maverick Narkom, with three 
or four of the firm's employees pressing close upon his heels ; 
that the superintendent had but just cried out excitedly, 
*'Yes, man, yesf' when there arose a wild clatter of falHng 
figures, a snarl, a scuffle, a cry, and that, when he faced 
round in the direction of it, there was the Lucknow tableau 
piled up in a heap of fallen scenery and smashed waxworks, 
and in the middle of the ruin there was the ''signor" lying 
on his back with a band of steel upon each wrist, and over 
him Cleek, with a knee on the man's chest and the look of 
a fury in his eyes, crying aloud: ''Come out of it! Come 
out of it, you brute-beast! Your httle dodge has failed!" 

And hard on the heels of that shock Mr. Trent received 


another. For of a sudden he saw Cleek pluck a wig from 
the man's head and leave a white line showing above the 
place where the joining paste once had met the grease paint 
with which the fellow's face was coloured, and heard him 
say as he tossed that wig toward him and rose, "Out of your 
own stage properties, Mr. Trent — borrowed to be returned 
like this." 

"Heaven above, man," said Trent in utter bewilderment, 
"what's the meaning of it all? Who is that man, then, since 
it's clear he's not Loti? " 

"A very excellent actor in his day, Mr. Trent; his name 
is James ColHver," repKed Cleek. "I came to this place 
fully convinced that Loti had murdered him; I now know 
that he murdered Loti, and that to that crime he has added 
a yet more abominable one by killing his own son! " 

"It's a he! It's a lie! I didn't! I didn't! I never saw 
the boy!" screeched out ColHver in a very panic of terror. 
"I've never killed any one. Loti sold out to me! Loti 
went back to France. I pawned the jewels to get the money 
to pay him to go." 

"Oh, no, you didn't, my friend," said Cleek. "You per- 
formed that operation to shut Felix Murchison's mouth — 
the one man who could swear, and did swear, that James 
ColHver never left this building on the day of his disappear- 
ance, and who probably would have said more if you hadn't 
made it worth his while to shut his mouth and to disap- 
pear. You and I know, my friend, that Loti was the last 
man on this earth with whom you could come to terms upon 
anything. He had publicly declared that he would have 
your life, and he'd have kept his word if you hadn't turned 
the tables and killed him. You stole his wife, and you were 
never even man enough to marry her even though she had 
borne you a son and clung to you to the end, poor wretch ! You 
killed Loti, and you killed your own son. No doubt he is 
better off, poor Httle chap, to be dead and gone rather than 


to live with the shadow of illegitimacy upon him; and no 
doubt, either, that when he came up here yesterday to meet 
Giuseppe Loti, he saw what I saw to-day, and knew you as 
I knew you then — the scar on the wrist, which was one of 
the marks of identification given me at the time I was sent 
to hunt you up ! And you killed him to shut his mouth." 

"I didn't! I didn't!" he protested wildly. ''I never 
saw him. He wasn't here. The women in the house across 
the way will swear that they saw the empty room." 

*'Not now!" declared Cleek, with emphasis. "I've con- 
vinced them to the contrary. Mr. Trent, let a couple of 
your men come over here and take charge of this fellow, 
please, and I will convince you as well. That's right, my 
lads. Lay hold of the beggar and don't let him get a chance 
to make a dash for the stairs. Got him fast, have you? 
Good! Now then, Mr. James Colhver, this is what those 
deluded women saw — this Httle dodge, which is going to 
help Jack Ketch to come into his own." 

Speaking, he walked rapidly across to the long bhnd, pulled 
it down to its full length, then with a wrench tore it wholly 
from the roller and whirled it over, so that they who were 
within could now see the outer side. 

It bore, painted upon it, a perfect representation of the 
interior of the glass-room, even to the Httle spindle-legged 
table with a vase of pink roses upon it which now stood at 
that room's far end. 

*'A clever idea, ColHver, and a good piece of painting," 
he said. ''It took me in once — last August — just as it 
took in Mrs. Sherman and her daughter yesterday. The 
mistiness of the lace curtains falHng over it lent just the 
effect of ' distance ' that was required to perfect the illusion 
and to prevent anybody from detecting the paint. As for 

the boy Gently, lads, gently! Don't let the beggar 

in his struggles make you step on that 'dead soldier.' Under 
the thick coating of wax a human body lies — the boy's ! 


Hullo! Gone off his balance, eh, at the knowledge that the 
game is entirely up?" This as CoUiver, with a terrible cry, 
collapsed suddenly and fell to the floor shrieking and grovel- 
ling. ^' They are a cowardly lot these brute-beast men when 
it comes to the wall and the final corner. Mr. Trent, break 
this to Miss Larue as gently as you can. She has suffered 
a great deal, poor girl, and it is bound to be a shock. She 
doesn't know that the woman he called his wife never really 
was his wife; she doesn't know about Loti or his threat. 
If she had she'd have told me, and I might have got on the 
trail in the first case instead of waiting to pick it up like 

He paused and held up his hand. Through all this CoUi- 
ver had not once ceased grovelling and screaming; but it 
was not his cries that had drawn that gesture from Cleek. 
It was the sound of some one racing at top speed up the 
outer stairs, and with it the jar of many excited voices 
mingled in a babble of utter confusion. 

The door of the glass-room swung inward abruptly, and 
the head bookkeeper looked in, with a crowd of clerks be- 
hind him. 

''Mr. Trent, sir, whatever is the matter? Is anybody 
hurt? I never heard such screams. The whole place is 
ringing with them and there's a crowd gathering about the 

Cleek left the junior partner to explain the situation, 
stepped to the side of the glass-room, looked down, saw that 
the statement was quite true, and — stepped sharply back 

*'We shall have to defer removing our prisoner until it 
gets dark, I fancy, Mr. Narkom," he said, serenely. ''And 
with Mr. Trent's permission we will make use of the door 
leading into the alley at the back when that time comes. 

"Yes, sir?" 


"You might explain to the constable on duty in the 
neighbourhood — if he comes to inquire, that is — the cause 
of the disturbance, and that Scotland Yard is in charge and 
Superintendent Narkom already on the premises. That's 
all, thank you. You may close the door and take your 
colleagues below. Hullo! our prisoner seems to be subsid- 
ing into something akin to gibbering idiocy, Mr. Trent. 
Fright has turned his brain, apparently. Let us make use 
of the respite from his shrieks. You will, of course, wish 
to hear how I got on the track of the man, and what were 
the clues which led up to the solving of the affair. Well, 
you shall. Sit down, and while we are waiting for the dark- 
ness to come I'll give you the complete explanation." 


COLLIVER, who had now sunk into a state of babbling 
incoherence, lay on his face in the wreck of the tab- 
leau, rolKng his head from side to side and clasping and 
unclasping his manacled hands. 

Trent turned his back upon the unpleasant sight and, 
placing three chairs at the opposite end of the room, 
dropped into one and lifted an eager countenance to Cleek. 

*^Tell me first of all," he asked, ''how under heaven you 
came to suspect how the disappearance of the boy was 
managed? It seems like magic, to me. When in the world 
<?'id you get the first clue to it, Mr. Cleek?" 

''Never until I heard of those two women looking into 
this room and seeing the vase of pink roses standing on a 
spindle-legged table in the centre of it," he replied. "You 
see, even in the old days when I had the other case in hand 
and was searching for a clue to Colliver's disappearance, 
never had any one mentioned the name of Loti to me. I 
knew, of course, that you made wax figures here, but I never 
heard until this afternoon that Loti was the man who was 
employed to model them. I also knew about the existence 
of the glass-room and its position, for I had been at the 
pains of inspecting it from the outside. That came about 
in this way: Just before Miss Larue closed up the case of 
James Colhver I had obtained the first actual clue to his 
movements after he left Mr. Trent, senior, and came out 
of the office. 

"That clue came from the door porter, FeHx Murchison. 
What careful 'pumping' got out of him was that when James 



Colliver left the office he had asked him, Murchison, which 
was the way to the place where they made the waxworks, 
as he'd heard that they were making a head of Miss Larue 
to be used in the execution scene of Catharine Howard, 
and he'd Kke to have a look at it. Murchison said that he 
told him the figures were made in a glass-room on the top 
of the house, and directed him how to reach it. He went 
up the stairs, and that was the last that was seen of him. 

*' Naturally when I heard that I thought I'd like to see the 
exterior of the building to ascertain if there was any open- 
ing, door or window, by which he could have left the upper 
floor without coming down the main staircase. That led 
me to beg permission of the people in the house across the 
passage there to look from one of the side windows, and 
so gave me my first view of the glass-room. What I saw 
was exactly what Mrs. Sherman and her daughter saw 
yesterday — namely, that spick and span room with the 
table in the centre and the vase of pink roses standing on it. 

''Need I go further than to say that when I heard of those 
women seeing a room that was badly Kttered a few minutes 
before suddenly become a tidy one with a table and a vase 
of roses standing in the middle of it, without anybody having 
come into the place for the purpose of making the change, I 
instantly remembered my own experience and suspected a 
painted blind? 

''When I entered this room to-day and saw the peculiar 
position of that blind I became alm.ost certain I had hit 
upon the truth, and sent Mr. Narkom to the house across 
the way to test it. That's why I pulled the blind down. 
Why I stumbled and nearly fell into the tableau was because 
I had a faint suspicion of the horrible truth when I noticed 
how abominably thick the neck, hands, and ankles of that 
'dead soldier' were; and I wanted to test the truth or false- 
ness of the 'straw stuffing' assertion by actual touch, parti- 
cularly as I felt siure that the presence of all these strongly 


scented flowers was for the purpose of covering less agree- 
able odours should the heat of the weather cause decom- 
position to set in before he could dispose of the body. I 
don't think he ever was mad enough to intend letting the 
thing remain a part of the tableau. I fancy he would have 
found an excuse to get it out somehow and to make away 
with it entirely, as, no doubt, he did with the body of Loti. 
"What's that, Mr. Narkom? No, I don't think that 
Murchison had any actual hand in the crime or really knev/ 
the identity of the man. I fancy he must have gone up to 
tell the fictitious Loti that he knew James Colliver had 
entered that glass-room and never come out of it, and Colli- 
ver, of course, had to shut his mouth by buying him off and 
sending him out of the country. That is why he took yet 
another disguise and pawned the jewels. He had to get 
the money some way. As for the rest, I imagine that when 
Colliver went up to the room to see that wax head, and 
Loti caught sight of him, the old Italian jumped on him like 
a mad tiger; and, seeing that it was Loti's life or his own, 
Colliver throttled him. When that was done, the necessity 
for disposing of the body arose, and the imposture was the 
actual outcome of a desire to save his own neck. That's 
all, I think, Mr. Narkom; so you may revise your 'notes' 
and mark down the Colliver case as 'solved ' at last and the 
mystery of it cleared up after all." 

Three hours of patient waiting had passed and gone. 
The darkness had fallen, the streets were still, save for the 
faint hum of Hfe coming from districts afar, and the time 
for action had come at last. Cleek rose and put on his hat. 

''I think we may safely venture to remove our prisoner 
now, Mr. Narkom," he said, ''and if you will slip out the 
back way and get Lennard to bring the limousine around to 
the head of that narrow alley " 

"They're there already, dv^ar chap. I stationed Lennard 


there when I went across to look into that business about 
the painted bHnd. It seemed the least conspicuous place 
for him to wait." 

''Excellent! Then, if you will run on ahead and have the 
door of it open for me and everything ready so that we m-ay 
whisk him in and be off Hke a shot, and Mr. Trent will let 
one of these good chaps here run down to the man's room 
and fetch him a hat, I'll attend to his removal." 

"Here's one here, sir, that'll do at a pinch and save time," 
suggested one of the men, picking up a cavalryman's hat 
from the wreck of the ruined tableau and dusting it by slap- 
ping it against his thigh. "I don't think he'll resist much, 
sir; he seems to have gone clear off his biscuit and not to 
know enough for that; but if you'd like me and my mate to 
lend a hand " 

"No, thanks; I shall be able to manage him myself, I 
fancy," said Cleek, serenely. "Get him on liis feet, please. 
That's the business! Now then, Mr. Narkom nip off; I'm 

Mr. Narkom "nipped off" without an instant's delay, and 
two minutes later saw him slipping out through the rear 
door of the building with Cleek and the jabbering, unre- 
sisting prisoner at the bottom of the last flight of stairs not 
twenty yards behind. 

But the passage of the next half minute saw something of 
more moment still; for, as Narkom ran on tiptoe up the dim 
alley to the waiting Kmousine standing at its western end, 
and unlatching the vehicle's door, swung it open to be ready 
for Cleek, out of the stillness there roared suddenly the 
shrill note of a dog-whistle, and all in a moment there was 
— mischief. 

A crowd of quick-moving Apache figures sprang up from 
sheltering doors and, scudding past him, headed full tilt 
down the narrow alley, calling out as they ran that piercing 
*'La, la, loi!" which is the war cry of their kind. 


A blind rage — all the more maddening in that it was im- 
potent, since he had neither weapon to defend nor the power 
to slay — swept down upon the superintendent as he real- 
ized the import of that mad rush, and, ducking down his 
head, he bolted after them, into the thick of them — punch- 
ing, banging, slogging, shouting, swearing — an incarnate 
Passion, the Epitome of Man's love for Man — a little fat 
Fury that was all a whirl of flying fists as it swept onward 
and that seemed to go absolutely insane at what he looked 
up the alley and saw. 

*' Get back, Cleek! Get back, for God's sake ! " he yelled, 
in a very panic of fear and dismay; then cleft his way with 
beating arms and kicking feet through the hampering crowd, 
arrowed out of its midst, and bore down upon the cavalry- 
hatted figure that had stepped out of the dark doorway of 
Trent & Son's building and was standing flattened against 
the rear wall of it. 

He reached out his hand and made a blind clutch at it, 
and, while he was yet far out of reaching distance of it, 
faced round and made a wild effort to cover it with his 
short, fat body and his arms outflung, like a crucifix, and 
looked at the Apaches and swore without one thought of 
being profane. 

*' Me, you damned devils! Me, me, not him ! Not him, 
damn you ! damn you ! damn you! " he cried, hoarse-throated 
and — said no more ! 

The scuttling crowd came up with him, broke about him, 
swept past him. A loud explosion sounded; a flare of light 
broke full against the cavalry hat; a stifling odour of picric 
acid filled the air and gripped the throat, and with its com- 
ing, man and hat slid down the wall and dropped at its 
foot a crumpled heap that never in this world would stand 
erect again. 

''Killed! Killed!" half -cried, half -groaned the superin- 
tendent, staggering a bit as the crowd flew on up the alley 


and vanished around the corner of the street into which it 
merged. ''Oh, my God! After all my care; after all my 
love for him! Killed Hke a dog. Oh, Cleek! Oh, Cleek! 
The dearest friend — the finest pal — the greatest detective 
genius of the age!" And then, swinging his arm up and 
across his eyes and holding it there, made a queer choking 
sound behind the sheltering crook of it. 

But of a sudden a voice spoke up from the darkness of the 
open door near by and said quietly : 

''That's the finest compliment I ever had paid me in all 
my life, Mr. Narkom. Don't worry over me, dear friend; 
I'm still able to sit up and take nourishment. The Apaches 
have saved the public executioner a morning's work. Col- 
liver has parted with his brains forever; and may God have 
mercy on his soul!" 

"Cleek!" Mr. Narkom scarcely knew his own voice, such 
a screaming thing it was. " Cleek, dear chap, is it you? " 

"To be sure. Come inside here if you doubt it. Come 
quickly; there's a crowd of quite a different sort coming: 
the report of that bomb has aroused the neighbourhood; 
and I have quite enough of crowds for one evening, thank 

Narkom was inside the building before you could have 
said Jack Robinson, "pump-handling" Cleek with all his 
might and generally deporting himself like a man gone daft. 

"I thought they'd finished you! I thought they'd 'done 
you in.' It was the Apache, you know — and that infernal 
scoundrel Waldemar: he must have found out som^ehow," 
he said excitedly. "But we've got it on him at last, Cleek: 
he's come within the law's reach after all." 

"To be sure; but I doubt if the law will be able to find 
him, Mr. Narkom. He will have left the country before 
the trap was actually sprung, believe me; or failing that, 
"vdll be well on his way out of it." 

"But perhaps not absolutely out of it, dear chap. There, 


are the ports, you know; and so long as he is on English soil 

Come and see ! Come and see ! We may be able to 

head him off. Let's get out by way of the front of the 
building, Cleek, and if I can once get to the telegraph and 

wire to the coast — and he hasn't yet sailed Come on ! 

come on! Or no: wait a moment. That's a constable out 
there, asking for information. I'll nip out and let him 
know that the Yard's on the case and give him a few orders 
about reporting it. Wait for me at the front door, old chap. 
With you in a winking." 

He stepped out into the alley as he spoke and mingled 
with the gathering crowd. 

But Cleek did not stir. The alley was no longer dark 
for, with the gathering of the crowd, lights had come and he 
stood for many minutes staring into it and breathing hard 
and the colour draining slowly out of his face until it was 
like a thing of wax. 

Outside in the narrow alley the gathering of curious ones 
which the sound of the explosion and the sight of a running 
policeman had drawn to the place was every moment thick- 
ening, and with the latest addition to it there had come 
hurrying into the narrow space a morbid-minded newsboy 
with the customary bulletin sheet pinned over his chest. 

*'The Evening News! Six o'clock edition!" that bulletin 
was headed, and under that heading there was set forth in 
big black type : 





"Mr. Narkom," said Cleek, when at the end of ten 
minutes the superintendent came bustling back, hot and 
eager to begin the effort to head off Count Waldemar. "Mr. 


Narkom, dear friend, the days of trouble and distress are 
over and the good old times you have so often sighed for 
have come back. Look at that newsboy's bulletin. Walde- 
mar is too late in all things and — we have seen the last of 
him forever." 



MR. MAVERICK NARKOM glanced up at the calendar 
hanging on the office wall, saw that it recorded the 
date as August i8th, and then glanced back to the sheet 
of memoranda lying on his desk, and forthwith began to 
scratch his bald spot perplexedly. 

''I wonder if I dare do it? " he queried of himself in the un- 
spoken words of thought. ''It seems such a pity when the 
beggar's wedding day is so blessed near — and a man wants 
his last week of single blessedness all to himself, by James — 
if he can get it! Still, it's a case after his own heart; the 
reward's big and would be a nice little nest egg to begin 
married life upon. Besides, he's had a fairly good rest as 
it is, when I come to think of it. Nothing much to do since 
the time when that Mauravanian business came to an end. 
I fancy he rather looked to have something come out of that 
in the beginning from the frequent inquiries he made re- 
garding what that Johnnie Count Irma and the new Parlia- 
ment were doing; but it never did. And now, after all that 

rest — and this a case of so much importance ■ Gad! I 

believe I'll risk it. He can't do any more then decline. 
Yes, by James! I will." 

His indecision once conquered, he took the plunge in- 
stantly; caught up the desk telephone, called for a number, 
and two minutes later was talking to Cleek, thus : 

''I say, old chap, don't snap my head off for suggesting 
such a thing at such a time, but I've a most extraordinary 



case on hand and I hope to heaven that you will help me out 
with it. What's that? Oh, come, now, that's ripping of 
you, old chap, and I'm as pleased as Punch. What? Oh, 
get along with you ! No more than you'd do for me under 
the same circumstances, I'll be sworn. Yes, to-day — as 
early as possible. Right you are. Then could you man- 
age to meet me in the bar parlour of a little inn called the 
French Horn, out Shere way, in Surrey, about four o'clock? 
Could, eh? Good man! Oh, by the way, come prepared 
to meet a lady of title, old chap — she's the cHent. Thanks 
very much . Good-bye . ' ' 

Then he hung up the receiver, rang for Lennard, and set 
about preparing for the journey forthwith. 

And this, if you please, was how it came to pass that when 
Mr. Maverick Narkom turned up at the French Horn that 
afternoon he found a saddle horse tethered to a post outside, 
and Cleek, looking very much like one of the regular habitues 
of Rotten Row who had taken it into his mind to canter out 
into the country for a change, standing in the bar parlour 
window and looking out with appreciative eyes upon the 
broad stretch of green downs that billowed away to meet 
the distant hills. 

^'My dear chap, how on earth do you manage it?" said 
the superintendent, eying him with open approval, not to 
say admiration. '^I don't mean the mere putting on the 
clothes and looking the part — I've seen dozens in my time 
who could do that right enough, but the beggars always ^ fell 
down' when it came to the acting and the talking, while you 
— I don't loiow what the dickens it is nor how you manage 
to get it, but there's a certain something or other in your 
bearing, your manner, your look, when you tackle this sort 
of thing that I always believed a man had to be born to and 
couldn't possibly acquire in any other way." 

"There you are wrong, my dear friend. It is possible, as 
you see. That is what makes the difference between the 


mere actor and the real artiste,''^ replied Cleek, with an air of 
conceited self-appreciation which was either a clever illusion 
or an exhibition of great weakness. "If one man might 
not do these things better than another man, we should 
have no Irvings to illuminate the stage, and acting would 
drop at once from its place among the arts to the undignified 
level of a tawdry trade. And now, as our American cousins 
say, 'Let's come down to brass tacks.' What's the case 
and who's the lady?" 

''The widow of the late Sir George Essington, and grand- 
mother of the young gentleman in whose interest you are to 
be consulted." 

" Grandmother, eh? Then the lady is no longer young?" 

"Not as years go, although, to look at her, you would 
hardly suspect that she is a day over five-and-thirty. The 
Gentleman with the Hour Glass has dealt very, very Hghtly 
with her. Where he has failed to be considerate, however, 
the ladies, v/ho conduct certain 'parlours' in Bond Street, 
have come to the rescue in fine style." 

"Oh, she is that kind of woman, is she?" said Cleek wdth 
a pitch of the shoulders. "I have no patience with the 
breed! As if there was anything more charming than a 
dear, wrinkly old grandmother who bears her years grace- 
fully and fusses over her children's children like an old hen 
with a brood of downy chicks. But a grandmother who goes 
in for wrinkle eradicators, cream of lilies, skin- tighten- 
ers, milk of roses, and things of that kind — faugh ! It has 
been my experience, Mr. Narkom, that when a woman 
^as any real cause for worrying over the condition of her 
face, she usually has a just one to be anxious over that 
of her soul. So this old lady is one of the 'face painters,' 
is she?" 

"My dear chap, let me correct an error: a grandmother 
her ladyship may be, but she is decidedly not an old one. I 
believe she was only a mere girl when she married her late 


husband. At any rate, she certainly can't be a day over 
forty-five at the present moment. A frivolous and a reck- 
lessly extravagant woman she undoubtedly is — indeed, her 
extravagances helped as much as anything to bring her 
husband into the bankruptcy court before he died — but 
beyond that I don't think there's anything particularly 
wrong with her 'soul.' " 

"Possibly not. There's always an exception to every 
rule," said Cleek. ''Her ladyship may be the shining ex- 
ception to this unpleasant one of the 'face painters.' Let 
us hope so. Enghsh, is she? '^ 

''Oh, yes — that is, her father was English and she her- 
self was born in Buckinghamshire. Her mother, however, 
was an Itahan, a hneal descendant of a once great and power- 
ful Roman family named di Catanei." 

"Which," supplemented Cleek, with one of his curious 
one-sided smiles, "through an ante-papal union between 
Pope Alexander VI and the beautiful Giovanna de Catanei 
— otherwise Vanozza — gave to the world those two arch- 
poisoners and devils of iniquity, Csesar and Lucretia Bor- 
gia. Lady Essington's family tree supphes a mixture which 
is certainly imique: a fine, fruity English pie mth a rotten 
apple in it. Hum-m-m! if her ladyship has inherited any 
of the beauty of her famous ancestress — for in 1490, when 
she flourished, Giovanna de Catanei was said to be the most 
beautiful woman in the world — she should be something 
good to look upon." 

"She is," rephed Narkom. "You'll find her, when she 
comes, one of the handsomest and most charming women 
you ever met." 

"Ah, then she has inherited some of the attractions and 
accomplishments of her famous forbears. I wonder if there 
has also come down to her, as well, the formula of those re- 
markable secret poisons for which Lucretia Borgia and her 
brother Caesar were so widely famed. They were marvel- 


lous things, those Borgia decoctions — marvellous and ab- 

^'Horrible!" agreed Narkom, a curious shadow of unrest 
coming over him at this subject rising at this particular 

''Modern chemistry has, I believe, been quite unable to 
duplicate them. There is, for instance, that appalling thing 
the aqua tofana, the very fumes of which caused instant 

*'Aqua tofana was not a Bornean poison, my friend," 
said Cleek, with a smile. ''It was discovered more than 
two hundred years after their time — in 1668, to be exact — 
by one Jean Baptiste de Gaudin, Signeur de St. Croix, the 
paramour and accomplice of that unnatural French fiend, 
Marie Marquise de BrinviUiers. Its discoverer himself died 
through dropping the glass mask from his face and inhaling 
the fumes while he was preparing the hellish mixture. The 
secret of its manufacture did not, however, die with him. 
Many chemists can, to-day, reproduce it. Indeed, I, my- 
self, could give you the formula were it required." 

^^You? Gad, man! what don't you know? In heaven's 
name, Cleek, what caused you to dip into all these unholy 

"The same impulse which causes a drowning man to grip 
at a straw, Mr. Narkom — the desire for self-preservation. 
Remember what I was in those other days, and with whom I 
associated. Believe me, the statement that there is honour 
among thieves is a pleasant fiction and nothing more; for 
once a man sets out to be a professional thief, he and honour 
are no longer on speaking terms. I never could be wholly 
sure, with that lot; and my biggest coups were always a 
source of danger to me after they had been successfully com- 
pleted. It became necessary for me to study all poisons, 
all secret arts of destruction, that I might guard against 
them and might know the proper antidote. As for the rest 


■ — Sh! Mumm's a fine wine. Here comes the landlad)' 
with the tea. We'll drop the 'case' until afterward." 

"Now tell me," said Cleek, after the landlady had gone 
and they were again in sole possession of the room, ''what 
is it this Lady Essington wants of me? And what sort of 
a chap is this grandson in whose interest she is acting? Is 
he with her in this appeal to the Yard? " 

"Certainly not, my dear fellow. Why, he's little more 
than a baby — not over three at the most. Ever hear any- 
body speak of the ' Golden Boy,' old chap? " 

"What ! The baby Earl of Strathmere? The Httle chap 
who inherited a title and a million through the drowning of 
his parents in the wreck of the yacht Mystery? " 

"That's the little gentleman: the Right Honourable Ce- 
dric Eustace George Carruthers, twenty-seventh Earl 
Strathmere, variously known as the 'Millionaire Baby' and 
the 'Golden Boy.' His mother was Lady Essington's only 
daughter. She was only eighteen when she married Strath- 
mere: only twenty- two when she and her husband were 
drowned, a little over a year ago." 

"Early enough to go out of the world, that — poor girl!" 
said Cleek, sympathetically. "And to leave that little 
shaver all alone — robbed at one blow of both father and 
mother. Hard lines, my friend, hard Hnes! It is fair to 
suppose, is it not, that, with the death of his parents, the 
care and guidance of his little lordship fell to the lot of his 
grandmother, Lady Essington?" 

"No, it did not," rephed Narkom. "One might have 
supposed that it would, seeing that there was no paternal 
grandmother, but — well, the fact of the matter is, Cleek, 
that the late Lord Strathmere did not altogether approve 
of his mother-in-law's method of living (he was essentially 
a quiet, home-loving man and had Httle patience with fri- 
volity of any sort), and it occasioned no surprise among 


those who knew him when it was discovered that he had 
made a will leaving everything he possessed to his little son 
and expressly stipulating that the care and upbringing of 
the boy were to be entrusted to his younger brother, the 
Honourable Felix Camour Paul Carruthers, who was to 
enjoy the revenue from the estate until the child attained 
his majority." 

^'I see! I see!" said Cleek, appreciatively. "Then that 
did her extravagant ladyship out of a pretty large and steady 
income for a matter of seventeen or eighteen years. Hum- 
m-m ! Wise man — always, of course, provided that he 
didn't save the boy from the frying-pan only to drop him 
into the fire. What kind of a man is this brother — this 
Honourable Felix Carruthers — into whose hands he en- 
trusted the future of his little son? I seem to have a hazy 
recollection of hearing that name, somewhere or somehow, 
in connection with some other affair. Wise choice, was it, 
Mr. Narkom?" 

" Couldn't have been better, to my thinking. I know the 
Honourable Felix quite well: a steady-going, upright, hon- 
ourable young fellow (he isn't over two or three-and- thirty) , 
who, being a second son, naturally inherited his mother's 
fortune, and that being considerable, he really did not need 
the income from his little nephew's in the sUghtest degree. 
However, he undertook the charge willingly, for he is much 
attached to the boy; and he and his wife — to whom he was 
but recently married, by the way — entered into residence 
at his late brother's splendid property, Boskydell Priory, 
just over on the other side of those hills — you can see from 
the window, there — where they are at present entertaining 
a large house party, among whom are Lady Essington and 
her son Claude." 

"Oho! Then her ladyship has a son, has she? The 
daughter who died was not her only child? " 

"No. The son was born about a year after the daughter. 


A nice lad — bright, clever, engaging; fond of all sorts of 
dumb animals — birds, monkeys, white mice — all manner 
of such things — and as tender-hearted as a girl. Wouldn't 
hurt a fly. Carruthers is immensely fond of him and has 
him at the Priory whenever he can. That, of course, means 
having the mother, too, which is a bit of a trial, in a way, 
for I don't beHeve that her ladyship and Mrs. Carruthers 
care very much for each other. But that's another story. 
Now, then, let's see — where was I? Oh, ah! about the 
house party at the Priory and Carruthers' fondness for the 
boy. You can judge of my surprise, my dear Cleek, when 
last night's post brought me a private letter from Lady Es- 
sington asking me to meet her here at this inn — which, by 
the way, belongs to the Strathmere estate and is run by a 
former servant at the Priory — and stating that she wished 
me to bring one of the shrewdest and cleverest of 
my detectives, as she was quite convinced there was an 
underhand scheme afoot to injure his httle lordship — in 
short, she had every reason to believe that somebody was 
secretly attacking the life of the Golden Boy. She then 
went on to give me details of a most extraordinary and 
bewildering nature." 

'^ Indeed? What were those details, Mr. Narkom?" 
^'Let her tell you for herself — here she is!" rephed the 
superintendent, as a veiled and cloaked figure moved hur- 
riedly past the window; and he and Cleek had barely more 
than pushed back their chairs and risen when that figure 
entered the room. 

A sweep of her hand carried back her veil; and Cleek, 
looking round, saw what he considered one of the hand- 
somest women he had ever beheld: a good woman, too, for 
all her frivolous Kfe and her dark ancestry, if clear, straight- 
looking eyes could be taken as a proof, which he knew that 
they could not; for he had seen men and w^omen in his day, 
as crafty as the fox and as dangerous as the serpent, who 


could look you straight in the eyes and never flinch; while 
others — as true as steel and as clean-lifed as saints — 
would send shifting glances flicking all round the room and 
could no more fix those glances on the face of the person 
to whom they were talking than they could take unto them- 
selves wings and fly. 

But good or ill, whichever the future might prove this 
lovely lady to be, one thing about her was certain: she was 
violently agitated, and nervousness was making her shake 
perceptibly and breathe hard, like a spent runner. 

"It is good of you to come, Mr. Narkom," she said, mov- 
ing forward with a grace which no amount of excitement 
could dispel or diminish — the innate grace of the woman 
horn to her station and schooled by Mother Nature's guid- 
ing hand. "I had hoped that I might steal away and come 
here to meet you unsuspected. But, secretly as I wrote, 
carefully as I planned this thing, I have every reason to 
believe that my efforts are suspected and that I have, in- 
deed, been followed. So, then, this interview must be a 
very hurried one, and you must not be surprised if it be- 
comes necessary for me to run off without a moment's no- 
tice; for believe me, I am quite, quite sure that the Hon- 
ourable Mr. Felix Carruthers is already following me." 

"The Honourable — my dear Lady Essington, you don't 

mean to suggest that he — he of all men God bless 

my soul!" 

"Oh, it may well amaze you, Mr. Narkom. It well-nigh 
stupefied me when I first began to suspect. Indeed, I can't 
do any more than suspect even yet. Perhaps it is he, per- 
haps that abominable woman he has married. You must 
decide that when you have heard. I perceive" — glancing 
over at Cleek — "you have been unable to bring a detective 
poKce officer to Hsten to what I have to say, but if you and 
your friend will Hsten carefully and convey the story to one 
in due course " 


*' Pardon, your ladyship, but my companion is a detective 
officer," interposed Narkom. "So if you will state the case 
at once he will be able to advise." 

''A detective? You?" She flashed round on Cleek and 
looked at him in amazement, her lower lip indrawn, a look 
almost of horror in her eyes. One may not tell a lion that 
another lion is a jackass, though he masquerade in the skin 
of one. Birth spoke to Birth. She saw, she knew, she 
understood. "By what process could such as you — " she 
began; then stopped and made a slight inchnation of the 
head. "Pardon," she continued; "that was rude. Your 
private affairs are of course your own, Mr. — er " 

"Headland, your ladyship," supphed Cleek. "My name 
is George Headland!" And Narkom knew from that that 
for all her grace and charm he neither liked nor trusted her 
soft-eyed ladyship. 

"Thank you," said Lady Essington, accepting this self- 
introduction with a graceful inclination of the head. "No 
doubt Mr. Narkom has given you some idea of my reason 
for consulting you, Mr. Headland; but as time is very short 
let me give you the further details as briefly as possible. I 
am convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that some 
one who has an interest in his death is secretly attacking 
the Hfe of my little grandson; and I have every reason to 
believe that the ^some one' is either the Honourable Felix 
Carruthers or his wife." 

"But to what purpose, your ladyship? People do not 
commit so desperate an act as murder without some power- 
ful motive, either of gain or revenge, behind it, and from 
what I have heard, neither the uncle nor the aunt can have 
anything to win by injuring his Httle lordship." 

"Can they not?" she answered, with a despairing gesture. 
"How httle you know! Mrs. Carruthers is an ambitious 
woman, Mr. Headland, and, like all women of the class from 
which she was recruited, she aspires to a title. She was 


formerly an actress. The Honourable Felix married and 
took her from the theatre. It is abominable that a person 
of that type should be foisted upon society and brought into 
contact with her betters." 

"Oho! that's where the shoe pinches, is it?" thought 
Cleek; but aloud he merely said: ''The day has long 
passed, your ladyship, when the followers of Thespis have to 
apologize for their existence. There are many ladies of the 
stage in these times whose Uves are exemplary and whose 
names call forth nothing but respect and admiration; and so 
long as this particular lady bore an unblemished reputation 
• Did she?" 

*'0h, yes. There was never a word against her in that 
respect. Felix would never have married her if there had 
been. But I beheve in persons of that class remaining in 
their own circle, and not intruding themselves into others 
to which they were not horn. She is an ambitious woman, 
as I have told you. She aspires to a title as well as to riches, 
and if little Lord Strathmere should die, her husband would 
inherit both. Surely that is 'motive' enough for a woman 
of that type. As for her husband " 

"There, I am afraid, your suspicion confounds itself, your 
ladyship," interrupted Cleek. "I am told that the Hon- 
ourable Mr. Carruthers is extremely fond of the boy; besides 
which, being rich in his own right, he has no reason to covet 
the riches of his brother's baby son." 

"Pardon me: ^was rich' is the proper expression, not 'is,' 
Mr. Headland. The failure, a fortnight or so ago, of the 
West Coast Diamond Mining Company, in which the 
greater part of his fortune was invested and of which he was 
the chairman, has sadly crippled his resources, and he has 
now nothing but the income from his nephew's estate to 
live upon." 

"Hum-m-m! Ah! Just so!" said Cleek, pinching his 
chin. "Now I recollect what made the name seem famihar, 


Mr. Narkom. I remember reading of the failure, and of 
the small hope that was held out of anything being saved 
from the wreckage. Still, the income from the Strathmere 
estate is enormous; and by dint of care, in the seventeen or 
eighteen years which must elapse before his little lordship 
comes of age " 

"He will never come of age! He will be killed first — he 
is being killed now!" interposed Lady Essington, agitatedly. 
**0h, Mr. Headland, help me! I love the boy — he is my 
own child's child. I love him as I never loved anything else 

in all the world; and if he were to die Dear God 1 v/hat 

should I do ? And he is dying: I tell you he is. And they 
won't let me go near him: they won't let me have him all to 
myself, these two ! If his cries in the night wring my heart 
and I run to his nursery, one or the other of them is always 
there, and never for one moment will they let me hold him 
in my arms nor be with him alone." 

''Hum-m-m! Cries out in the night, does he, your lady- 
ship? What kind of cries? Those of fright or of pain? " 

"Of pain — of excruciating pain: it would wring the heart 
of a stone to hear him, and, though there is never a spot of 
blood nor a sign of violence, he declares that some one comes 
in the night and sticks something into his neck — something 
which, in his baby way, he likens to 'a long, long needle that 
goes yite froo my neck and sets uvver needles prickin' and 
prickin' all down my arm.' " 

"Hello! what's that? Let's have that again, please!" 
rapped out Cleek, before he thought; then recollected him- 
self and added apologetically , "I beg your ladyship's pardon, 
but I am apt to get a little excited at times. Something 
like a needle being run into his neck, eh? And other needles 
continuing the sensation down the arm? Hum-m-m! Had 
a doctor called in? " 

"No. I wished to, but neither the uncle nor aunt would 
let me do so. They say it is nothing — a mere ^growing pain' 


which he will overcome in time. But it is not — I know it 
is not ! If it were natural, why did it never manifest itself 
before the failure of that wretched diamond company? 
Why did it wait to begin until after the Honourable FeKx 
Carruthers had lost his money? And why is it going on, 
night after night, ever since? Why has he begun to fail in 
health? — to change from a happy, laughing, healthy child 
into a peevish, fretful, constantly complaining one? I tell 
3-0U they are kilHng him, those two; I tell you they are using 
some secret diaboHcal thing which is sapping liis very life; 
and if " 

She stopped and sucked her breath in with a little gasp of 
fright, and, whisking down her veil, turned and made hur- 
riedly for the door. 

"I told you he guessed; I told you I should be followed !'' 
she said in a shaking voice. "He is coming — that man: 
along the road there ! look through the window and you will 
see. Oh, come to my assistance, Mr. Headland! Find 
some way to do it, for God's sake ! Good-bye ! '^ 

Then the door opened and shut and she was gone, darting 
out from the rear of the inn into the shelter of the scattered 
clumps of furze bushes and the thick growth of bracken 
which covered the downs, and running hke a hare pursued. 

*' Well, what do you make of it, old chap? " asked Narkom 
anxiously, turning to Cleek after ascertaining past all doubt 
that the Honourable FeHx Carruthers was riding up the road 
toward the French Horn. 

"Oh, a crime beyond doubt," he repKed. "But whose I 
am in no position to determine at present. A hundred 
things might produce that stabbing sensation in the neck, 
from the prick of a pin-point dipped in curare to a smear of 
the 'Pope's balm,' that hellish ointment of the Borgias. 
Hum-m-m! And so that's the Honourable FeHx Car- 
ruthers, is it? Keep back from the window, my friend. 
When you are out gunning for birds, it never does to raise 


an alarm. And we should be hard put to it to explain our 
presence here at this particular time if he were to see you." 

''My dear chap, you don't surely mean that you think he 
is really at the bottom of it?" began Narkom, in surprise; 
but before he could say a word further, that surprise was 
completely overwhelmed by another and a greater one. 
For the Honourable Felix had reined in and dismounted at 
the French Horn's door, and, wifh a clear- voiced, ''No, 
don't put him up; I shan't be long, Betty. Just want a 
word or two with some friends I'm expecting," walked 
straightway into the bar parlour and advanced toward th^:? 
superintendent with hand outstretched. 

''Thank God, you got my letter in time, Mr. Narkom," 
he said, with a breath of intense relief. "Although I sent 
it by express messenger, it was after three o'clock and I was 
afraid you wouldn't. What a friend you are to come to my 
reKef like this! I shall owe you a debt no money can re- 
pay. This then is the great and amazing Cleek, is it? I 
thank you, Mr. Cleek, I thank you from the bottom of my 
heart for accepting the case. Now we shall get to the bot- 
tom of the mystery, I am sure." 

It was upon the tip of Narkom's tongue to inquire what he 
meant by all this; but Cleek, rightly suspecting that the 
letter to which he alluded had been deHvered at the Yard 
after the superintendent's departure, jumped into the 
breach and saved the situation. 

"Very good of you indeed to place such great rehance 
in me, Mr. Carruthers," he said. "We had to scramble for 
it, Mr. Narkom and I — the letter was so late in arriving — 
but, thank fortune, we managed to get here, as you see. 
And now, please, may I have the details of the case?" 

He spoke guardedly, lest it should be upon some matter 
other than the interest of the " Golden Boy" and to prevent 
the Honourable Felix from guessing that he had already 
been approached upon that subject by Lady Essington. It 


was not some other matter, however. It was again the 
mystery of the secret attacks upon his Httle lordship he was 
asked to dispel; and the Honourable Felix, plunging forth- 
with into the details connected with it, gave him exactly 
the same report as Lady Essington had done. 

''Come to the rescue, Mr. Cleek," he finished, rather 
excitedly. ''Both my wife and I feel that you and you 
alone are the man to get at the bottom of this diabolical 
thing; and the boy is as dear to us as if he were our own. 
Help me to get proof — unimpeachable proof — of the 
hand which is engineering these diabolical attacks, that 
we may not only put an end to them before they go too far, 
but may avert the disgrace which publicity must inevitably 

"Publicity, Mr. Carruthers? What publicity are you in 
dread of, please?" 

"That which could only bring shame to a dear, lovable 
young fellow if any hint of what I beUeve to be the truth 
should get out, Mr. Cleek," he repKed. "To you I may 
confess it: I appeal to no medical man because I fear, for 
young Claude's sake, that investigation may lead to a dis- 
covery of the truth; for both my wife and I feel — indeed, 
we almost know — that it is his own grandmother, Lady 
Essington, who is injuring the boy and that it will not be 
long before she attempts to direct suspicion against us^ 

" Indeed? For what purpose? " 

"To have us removed by the courts as not being fit to 
have the care of the child, and to get him transferred to her 
care, that she may enjoy the revenue from his estate." 

"Phew! " whistled Cleek softly. "Well done, my lady!" 

"We do our best to keep her from getting at him," went 
on the Honourable FeHx, "but she succeeds in spite of us. 
His nursery was on the same floor as her rooms, but for 
greater safety I last night had him carried to my own bed- 
chamber and double-locked all the windows and doors. I 


said to myself that nothing could get to him then ; but — it 
did, just the same! In the middle of the night he woke up 
screaming and crying out that some one had come and 
stuck a long needle in his neck, and then for the first time — 
God ! I nearly went ofif my head when I saw it — for the 
first time, Mr. Cleek, there was a mark upon him — three 
red raw little spots just over the collarbone on the left side 
of the neck, as if a bird had pecked him." 

^'Hum-m-m! And all the windows closed, you say?" 

"All but one — the window of my dressing-room — but 
as that is barred so that nobody could possibly get in, I 
thought it did not matter, and so left it partly open for the 
sake of air." 

"I see," said Cleek. "I see! Hum-m-m! A fortnight 
without any outward sign and then of a sudden three small 
raw spots! Indented in the centre are they, and much in- 
flamed about the edges? Thanks! Quite so, quite so! 
And the doors locked and all the windows but one closed 

and secured on the inside, so that no human body • 

What's that? Take the case? Certainly I will, Mr. Car- 
ruthers. You are entertaining a house party at present, I 
hear. Now if you can make it convenient to put me up in 
the Priory for a night or two, and will inform your guests 
that an old 'Varsity friend named — er — let's see ! Oh, 
ah! Deland, that will do as well as any — Lieutenant 
Arthur Deland, home on leave from India — if you will in- 
form your guests that that friend will join the house party 
to-morrow afternoon, I'll be with you in time for lunch, and 
will bring my man servant with me." 

"Thank you! thank you!" said the Honourable Felix, 
wringing his hand. "I'll do exactly as you suggest, Mr. 
Cleek, and rooms shall be ready for you when you arrive." 

And the matter being thus arranged, the Honourable 
FeKx took his departure; and Cleek, calling the landlady 
to furnish him with pen, ink, and paper, sat down then and 


there to write a private note to Lady Essington, telling her 
to look out for Mr. George Headland to put in an appearance 
at the Priory in three days' time. 

It was exactly half-past one o'clock when Lieutenant 
Arthur Deland, a big, handsome, fair-haired, fair-mous- 
tached fellow, with the stamp of the Army all over him, 
turned up at Boskydell Priory with an undersized Indian 
servant and an oversized kit and was presented to his host- 
ess and to the several members of the house party, by all 
of whom he was voted a decided acquisition before he had 
been an hour under the Priory's roof. 

It is odd how one's fancies sometimes go. He found the 
Honourable Mrs. Carruthers a sw^et, gentle, dovelike httle 
woman for whom he did not care in the least degree, and he 
fomid Lady Essington's son a rolKcking, bubbling, over- 
grown boy of two-and-twenty, whom, in spite of frivolous 
upbringing and a rather pronounced brusqueness toward his 
mother, he fancied very much indeed. In fact, he ''played 
right up" to Mr. Claude Essington, as our American cous- 
ins say; and Mr. Claude Essington, fancying him hugely, 
took him to his heart forthwith and blurted out his senti- 
ments mth almost small-boy candour. 

''I say, Deland, you're a spiffing sort — I like you!" he 
said bluntly, after they'd played one or two sets of tennis 
with the ladies and done their "social duties" generally. 
"If things look up a bit and I'm able to go back to Oxford for 
the next term (and the Lord knows how I shall, if the mater 
doesn't succeed in 'touching' Carruthers for some money 
for we're jolly near broke and up to our eyes in debt), but 
if I do go back and you're in England still, I'll have you up 
for the May week and give you the time of your life. Oh, 
Lord! here's the mater coming now. Let's hook it. Come 
round to the stables, will you, and have a look at my col- 
lection. Pippin' lot — they'll interest you." 


They did; for on investigation the "collection" proved to 
be made up of pigeons, magpies, parrakeets, white mice, 
monkeys, and even a tame squirrel, all of which came forth 
at their master's call and swarmed or flocked all over him. 

"Now then, Dolly Varden, you keep your thieving tongs 
away from my scarf pin, old lady!" exclaimed this enthu- 
siast to a magpie which perched upon his shoulder and im- 
mediately made a peck at the small pearl in his necktie. 
"Awfullest old thief and vagrant that ever sprouted a 
feather, this beauty," he explained to Cleek as he smoothed 
the magpie's head. "Steal your eye teeth if she could get at 
them, and goes off on the loose like a blessed wandering 
gypsy. Lost her for three days and nights a couple of 
weeks ago, and the Lord knows where the old vagrant put 
in her time. What's that? The white stuff on her beak? 
Blest if I know. Been pecking at a wall or something, I 
reckon, and — hullo! There's Carruthers and his Httle 
lordship strolHng about hand in hand. Let's go and have a 
word with them. Strathmere's amazingly fond of my mice 
and birds." 

With that he walked away with the mice and the monkeys 
and the squirrel clinging to him, and those of the birds that 
were not perched upon his shoulders or his hands circling 
round his head with a flurry of moving wings. Cleek fol- 
lowed. A word in private with the Honourable Felix was 
accountable for his appearance in the grounds with the boy, 
and Cleek was anxious to get a good look at him without 
exciting any possible suspicion in Lady Essington's mind 
regarding the "Lieutenant's" interest in him. 

He was a bonny Httle chap, this last Earl of Strathmere, 
with a head and face that might have done duty for one of 
Raphael's "Cherubim" and the big "wonder eyes" that 
make baby faces so alluring. 

"Strathmere, this is Lieutenant Deland, come all the way 
from India to visit us," said the Honourable FeHx, as Cleek 


went down on his knees and spoke to the boy (examining 
him carefully the while). ^' Won't you tell him you are 
pleased to see him?" 

"Pleased to see oo," said the boy, then broke into a shout of 
glee as he caught sight of young Essington with the animals 
and birds. ''Pitty birdies! pitty mouses! Give! give!" he 
exclaimed eagerly, stretching forth his little hands. 

''Certainly. Which will you have, old chap — magpie, 
parrakeet, pigeon, monkey, or mice?" said young Essington, 
gayly. "Here! take the lot and be happy!" Then he 
made as if to bundle them all into the child's arms, and 
might have succeeded in doing so, but that Cleek rose up and 
came between them and the boy. 

"Do have some sense, Essington!" he rapped out sharply. 
''Those things may not bite nor claw you, but one can't be 
sure when they are handled by some one else. Besides, the 
boy is not well and he ought not to be frightened." 

"Sorry, old chap — always puttin' my foot into it. But 
Strathmere Hkes 'em, don't you, bonny boy? and I didn't 

"Take them back to the stables and let's have a go at 
bilKards for an hour or two before tea," said Cleek, turning 
as Essington walked away, and looking after him with nar- 
rowed eyes and Kps indrawn. When man and birds were out 
of sight, however, he made a sharp and sudden sound, and 
almost in a twinkUng his "Indian servant" slipped into 
sight from behind a nearby hedge. 

"Get round there and examine those birds after he's 
left them," said Cleek, in a swift whisper. "There's one — 
a magpie — with something smeared on its beak. Find out 
what it is and bring me a sample. Look sharp ! " 

"Right you are, sir," answered in excellent Cockney the 
imdersized person addressed. "I'll spread one of me fa- 
mous ' Tickle Tootsies' and nip in and ketch the bloomin' 'awk 
as soon as the josser's back is turned, guv'ner. I'm off, as 


the squib said to the match when it started blowin' of him 
up." Then the face disappeared again, and the child and the 
two men were again alone together. 

''Good God, man!" exclaimed the Honourable Felix in 
a lowered voice of strong excitem.ent. "You can't possibly 

beheve that he — that dear, lovable boy Oh, it is 

beyond behef!" 

''Nothing is 'beyond belief in my hne, my friend. Rec- 
ollect that even Lucifer was an angel 07Ke. I know the 
means employed to bring about this" — touching softly 
the three red spots on his Httle lordship's neck — "but I 
have yet to decide how the thing is administered and by 
whom. Frankly I do not believe it is done with a bird's 
beak — though that, too, is possible, wild as it seems — but 
by this time to-morrow I promise you the riddle shall be 
solved. Sh-h! Don't speak — he's coming back. Take 
the boy into your own room to-night, but leave the door un- 
fastened. I'm coming down to watch by him with you. 
Let him first be put into the regular nursery, however, then 
take him out without the knowledge of any H\ing soul — of 
any. you hear? — and I will be with you before midnight." 

That night two curious things happened: The first was 
that at a quarter to seven, when Martha, the nursemaid, 
coming up into the nursery to put his little lordship to bed, 
found Lieutenant Deland — who was supposed to be dress- 
ing for dinner at the time — standing in the middle of the 
room looking all about the place. 

"Don't be startled, Nurse," he said, as he looked round 
and saw her. "Your master has asked me to design a new 
decoration for this room, and I'm having a peep about in 
quest of inspiration. Ah, Strathmere, 'Dustman's time,' I 
see. Pleasant dreams to you, old chap. See you in the 
morning when you're awake." 

"Say good night to the gentleman, your lordship," said 


the nurse, laying both hands on his shoulders and lead- 
ing him forward, whereupon he began to whine sleepily: 
''Want Sambo! Want Sambo!" and to rub his fists into 
his eyes. 

"Yes, dearie, Nanny'll get Sambo for your lordship after 
your lordship has said good night to the gentleman," soothed 
the nurse; and held him gently until he had done so. 

"Good night, old chap," said Cleek. "Hello, Nurse, got 
a sore finger, have you, eh? How did that happen? It 
looks painful." 

"It is, sir, though I can't for the life of me think what- 
ever could have made a thing so bad from just scratching 
one's finger, unless it could have happened that there was 
something poisonous on the wretched magpie's claws. One 
never can be sure where those nasty things go nor what they 
dip into." 

"The magpie?" repeated Cleek. "What do you mean 
by that. Nurse? Have you had an unpleasant experience 
with a magpie, then?" 

"Yes, sir, that big one of Mr. Essington's: the nasty crea- 
ture that's always flying about. It was a fortnight ago, sir. 
Mistress' pet dog had got into the nursery and laid hold of 
Sambo — which is his lordship's rag doll, sir, as he never will 
go to sleep without — tore it well nigh to pieces did the dog; 
and knowing how his lordship would cry and mourn if he 
saw it like that, I fetched in my work-basket and started 
to mend it. I'd just got it pulled into something like shape 
and was about to sew it up when I was called out of the room 
for a few minutes, and when I came back there was that 
wretched Magpie that had been missing for several days 
right inside my work-basket trying to steal my reels of cot- 
ton, sir. It had come in through the open window — like 
it so often does, nasty thing. I loathe magpies and I be- 
lieve that that one knows it. Anyway, when I caught up 
a towel and began to flick at it to get it out of the room, it 


turned on me and scratched or pecked my finger, and it^s 
been bad ever since. Cook says she thinks I must have 
touched it against something poisonous after the skin was 
broken. Maybe I did, sir, but I can't think what." 

Cleek made no comment; merely turned on his heel and 
walked out of the room. 

The second curious thing occurred between nine o'clock 
and half-past, when the gentlemen of the party were lin- 
gering at the table over post-prandial liqueurs and cigars, and 
the ladies had adjourned to the drawing-room. A recol- 
lection of having carelessly left his kit-bag unlocked drew 
Cleek to invent an excuse for leaving the room for a minute 
or two and sent him speeding up the stairs. The gas in the 
upper halls had been lowered while the members of the 
household were below; the passages were dim and shadowy, 
and the thick carpet on halls and stairs gave forth never a 
murmur of sound from under his feet nor from under the 
feet of yet another person who had gone like he, but by a 
different staircase, to the floors above. 

It was, therefore, only by the merest chance that he 
looked down one of the passages in passing and saw a swift- 
moving figure — a woman's — cross it at the lower end and 
pass hastily into the nursery of the sleeping boy. And — 
whether her purpose was a good or an evil one — it was 
something of a shock to realize that the woman who was 
doing this was the Honourable Mrs. Carruthers. 

He locked the kit-bag, and went back to the dining-room 
just as the little gathering was breaking up, and Mr. Claude 
Essington, who always fed his magpies and his other pets 
himself, was bewailing the fact that he had "forgotten the 
beauties until this minute" and was smoothing out an old 
newspaper in which to wrap the scraps of cheese and meat 
he had sent the butler to the kitchen to procure. 

The Honourable Felix looked up at Cleek with a question 
in his eye. 


"No," he contrived to whisper in reply. ^'It was not 
anything poisonous — merely candle wax. The bird had 
flown in through the store-room window, and the house- 
keeper caught it carrying away candles one by one." 

The Honourable Felix made no response, nor would it 
have been heard had he done so; for just at that moment 
young Essington, whose eye had been caught by something 
in the paper, burst out into a loud guffaw. 

*'I say, this is rich. Listen here, you fellows! Lay you 
a tenner that the chap who wrote this was a Paddy Whack, 
for a finer bull never escaped from a Tipperary paddock: 

" *Lost: Somewhere between Portsmouth and London or some 
other spot on the way, a small black leather bag containing a 
death certificate and some other things of no value to anybody 
but the owner. Finder will be liberally rewarded if all con- 
tents are returned intact to 

" ' D. J. CM., 425 Savile Row, West.' 

"There's a beautiful example of English as she is adver- 
tised for you; and if Hullo, Deland, old chap, what's 

the matter with you?" 

For Cleek had suddenly jumped up and, catching the 
Honourable Felix by the shoulder, was hurrying him out of 
the room. 

"Just thought of something — that's all. Got to make 
a run; be with you again before bedtime," he answered eva- 
sively. But once on the other side of the door: " 'Write 
me down an ass,'" he quoted, turning to his host. "No, 
don't ask any questions. Lend me your auto and your 
chauffeur. Call up both as quickly as possible. Wait u'p 
for me and keep your wife and Lady Essington and her son 
waiting up, too. I said to-morrow I would answer the 
riddle, did I not? Well, then, if I'm not the bHndest bat 
that ever flew, I'll give you that answer to-night." 

Then he turned round and raced upstairs for his hat and 


coat, and ten minutes later was pelting off London- ward as 
fast as a p^i,ooo Panhard could carry him. 

It was close to one o'clock when he came back and walked 
into the drawing-room of the Priory, accompanied by a 
sedate and bespectacled gentleman of undoubted Celtic 
origin whom he introduced as ''Doctor James O'Malley, 
ladies and gentlemen, M.D., DubHn." 

Lady Essington and her son acknowledged the introduc- 
tion by an inclination of the head, the Honourable Felix and 
Mrs. Carruthers, ditto; then her ladyship's son spoke up in 
his usual blunt, outspoken way. 

*'l say, Deland, what's in the wind?" he asked. ''What 
lark are you up to now? Fehx says you've got a chnking 
big surprise for us all, and here we are, dear boy, all primed 
and ready for it. Let's have it, there's a good chap." 

"Very well, so you shall," he repKed. "But first of all 
let me lay aside a useless mask and acknowledge that I am 
not an Indian army officer — I am a simple pohce detective 
sometimes called George Headland, your ladyship, and some- 
times " 

"George Headland!" she broke in sharply, getting up and 
then sitting down again, pale and shaken. "And you came 
• — you came after all ! Oh, thank you, thank you ! I know 
you would not confess this unless you have succeeded. Oh, 
you may know at last — you may know!" she added, turn- 
ing upon the Honourable Felix and his wife. "I sent for 
him — I brought him here. I want to know and I will 
know whose hand it is that is striking at Strathmere's life 
— my child's child — the dearest thing to me in all the 
world. I don't care what I suffer, I don't care what I lose, 
I don't care if the courts award him to the veriest stranger, 
so that his dear little life is spared and he is put beyond all 
danger for good and all." 

Real love shone in her face and eyes as she said this, and 


it was the certainty of that which surprised Carruthers and 
his wife as much as the words she spoke. 

*'Good heavens! is this thing true!" The Honourable 
Felix turned to Cleek as he spoke. ^' Were you in her pay, 
too? Was she also working for the salvation of the boy? '^ 

"Yes," he made answer. ''I entered into her service 
under the name of George Headland, Mr. Carruthers — the 
service of a good woman whom I misjudged far enough to 
give her a fictitious name. I entered into yours by one to 
which I have a better right — Hamilton Cleek ! " 

"Cleek!" Both her ladyship and her son were on their 
feet Hke a flash; there was a breath of silence and then: 
" Well, I'm dashed ! " blurted out young Essington. " Cleek, 
eh? the great Cleek? Scotland!" And sat down again, 

"Yes, Cleek, my friend; Cleek, ladies and gentlemen all. 
And now that the mask is off, let me tell you a short Httle 
story which — no! Pardon, Mr. Essington, don't leave 
the room, please. I wish you, too, to hear." 

"Wasn't going to leave it — only going to shut the door." 

"Ah, I see. Allow me. It is now, ladies and gentlemen, 
exactly fourteen days since our friend Doctor O'Malley here, 
coming up from Portsmouth on his motorcycle after attend- 
ing a patient who that day had died, was overcome by the 
extreme heat and the exertion of trying to fight off a bellig- 
erent magpie which flew out of the woods and persistently 
attacked him, and, falling to the ground, lost consciousness. 
WTien he regained it, he was in the Charing Cross Hospital, 
and all that he knew of his being there was that a motorist 
who had picked him and his cycle up on the road had carried 
him there and turned him over to the authorities. He him- 
self was unable, however, to place the exact locahty in which 
he was travelling at the time of the accident, otherwise we 
should not have had that extremely interesting advertise- 
ment which Mr. Essington read out this evening. For the 


doctor had lost a small black bag containing something' 
extremely valuable, which he was carrying at the time and 
which supplies the solution to this interesting riddle. How, 
do 3^ou ask? Come v/ith me — all of you — to Mr. Car- 
ruthers' room, where his little lordship is sleeping, and learn 
that for yourselves." 

They rose at his word and followed him upstairs; and 
there, in a dimJy Ht room, the sleeping child lay with an old 
rag doll hugged up close to him, its painted face resting in 
the curve of his little neck. 

^' You want to know from where proceed these mysterious 
.attacks — who and what it is that harms the child?" said 
Cleek as he went forward on tiptoe and, gently withdrawing 
the doll, held it up. ''Here it is, then — this is the culprit: 
this thing here! You want to know how? Then by this 
means — look! See!" He thrust the blade of a pocket 
knife into the doll and with one sweep ripped it open, and 
dipping in his fingers drew from cotton wool and rags with 
which the thing was stuffed a slim, close-stoppered glass 
vial in which something that glowed and gave off constant 
sparks of Hght shimmered and burnt with a restless fire. 

"Is this it, Doctor?" he said, holding the thing up. 

"Yes! Oh, my God, yes!" he cried out as he clutched 
at it. "A wonder of the heavens, sure, that the child wasn't 
disfigured for hfe or perhaps kilt forever. A half grain of it 
— a half grain of radium, ladies and gentlemen — enough 
to burn a hole through the diwle himself, if he lay long 
enough agin it." 

"Radium ! " The word was voiced on every side, and the 
two women and two men crowded close to look at the thing. 
"Radium in the doll? Radium? I say, Deland — I mean 
to say, Mr. Cleek — in God's name, who could have put the 
cursed thing there?" 

" Your magpie, Mr. Essington," replied Cleek, and with 
that brief preface told of Martha, the nurse, and of the torn 


doll and of the magpie that flew into the room while the 
girl was away. 

^'The wretched thing must have picked it up when the 
doctor fell and lost consciousness and the open bag lay un- 
guarded," he said. "And with its propensity for stealing 
and hiding things it flew with it into the nursery and hid it 
in the torn doll. Martha did not see it, of course, when she 
sewed the doll up, but the scratch she received from the mag- 
pie presented a raw surface to the action of the mineral and 
its effect was instant and most violent. What's that? No, 
Mr. Carruthers — no one is guilty; no one has even tried 
to injure his lordship. Chance only is to blame — and 
Chance cannot be punished. As for the rest, do me a 
favour, dear friend, in place of any other kind of reward. 
Look to it that this young chap here gets enough out of the 
income of the estate to continue his course at Oxford and — 
that's all," 

It was not, however; for while he was still speaking a 
strange and even startling interruption occurred. 

A liveried servant, pushing the door open gently, stepped 
into the room bearing a small silver salver upon which a 
letter lay. 

"Well, upon my word, Johnston, this is rather an original 
sort of performance, isn't it?'^ exclaimed Carruthers, indig- 
nant over the intrusion. 

"I beg your pardon, sir, but I did knock," he apologized. 
"I knocked twice, in fact, but no one seemed to hear; and 
as I had been told it was a matter of more than Kfe and 
death, I presumed. Letter for Lieutenant Deland, sir. A 
gentleman of the name of Narkom — in a motor, sir — at 
the door — asked me to deliver it at once and imder any 
and all circumstances." 

Cleek looked at the letter, saw that it was enclosed in 
a plain unaddressed envelope, asked to be excused, and 
stepped out into the passage with it. 


That Narkom should have come for him like this — ■ 
should have risked the upsetting of a case by appearing 
before he knew if it was settled or, indeed, likely to be — 
could mean but one thing : that his errand was one of over- 
whelming importance, of more moment than anything else 
in the world. 

He tore off the envelope w^th hands that shook, and spread 
open the sheet of paper it contained. 

There was but one single Hne upon it; but that line, 
penned in that hand, would have called liim from the 
world's end. 

"Conie to me at oiice. Ailsa,''^ he read — and was on his 
way do"^Tistairs hke a shot. 

In the lower hall the butler stood, holding his hat and coat 
ready for him to jump into them at once. 

*'My — er — young servant — quick as you can!'' 
said Cleek, grabbing the hat and hurrying into the coat. 

'^Already outside, sir — in the motor with the gentleman," 
the butler gave back; then opened the door and stepped 
aside, holding it back for him and bowing deferentially; 
and the light of the hall, streaking out into the night, showed 
a flight of shallow^ steps, the blue limousine at the foot of 
them — with Lemiard in the driver's seat and Dollops be- 
side him — and standing on the lowest step of all Mr. Nar- 
kom holding open the car's door and looking curiously pale 
and solemn. 

*'What is it? Is she hurt? Has anything happened to 
her?" Cleek jumbled the three questions into one unbro' 
ken breath as he came running dov^Ti the steps and caught 
at the superintendent's arm. Speak up ! Don't stand look- 
ing at me Hke a dumb thing! Is anything wrong with Miss 

^'Nothing — nothing at all." 

*' Thank God! Then wh}? Why? For what reason has 
she sent for me? Where is she? Speak up ! " 


*^In town. Waiting for you. At the Mauravanian em- 

^'At the Good God ! How comes she to be there ? " 

*'I took her. You told me if anything happened to you 

that I thought she ought to know Please get in and 

let us be off, sir — Sire — whichever it ought to be. I 
don't know the proper form of address. I've never had any 
personal deahngs with royalty before." 

The hand that rested on his arm tightened its grip the 
very instant that word royalty passed his lips. Now it 
relaxed suddenly, dropped away, and he scarcely recognized 
the voice that spoke next, so unhke to Cleek's it was, so 
thick was the tremulous note that pulsated through it. 

^' Royalty? " it repeated. *^Speak up, please. What have 
you found out? What do you know of me that you make 
use of that term?" 

"What everybody in the world will know by to-morrow. 
Count Irma has told ! Count Irma has come, as the special 
envoy of the people, for Queen Karaia's son! For the King 
they want! For you!" flung out Narkom, getting excited 
as he proceeded. ''It's all out at last and — I know now. 
Everybody does. I'm to lose you. Mauravania is to take 
you from me after all. A palace is to have you — not the 
Yard. Get in, please, sir — Sire — your Majesty. Get 
in. They're waiting for you at the embassy. Get in and 
go! Good luck to you! God bless you! I mean that. 
It's just about going to break my heart, Cleek, but I mean 
it every word! Mind the step. Sire. Make room for me 
on the seat there, you two; and then off to the embassy as 
fast as you can streak it, Lennard. His Majesty is all ready 
to start." 

*'Not yet, please," a voice said quietly; then a hand 
reached out from the interior of the limousine, dropped upon 
Mr. Narkom's shoulder and, tightening there, drew him 
ivex the step and into the car. *' Your old seat, mv friend. 


Here beside me. My memory is not a short one and my 
affections not fickle. All right now, Lennard. Let her 

Then the door closed with a smack, the limousine came 
round with a swing, and, just as in those other days when it 
was the Law that called, not the trumpet-peal from a throne, 
the car went bounding off at the good old mile-a-minute 
chp on its fly-away race for London. 

It ended, that race, in front of the Mauravanian embassy; 
and Cleek's love for the spectacular must have come near to 
being surfeited that night, for the building was one blaze 
of light, one glamour of flags and flowers and festooned 
bunting; and looking up the steps, down Vv^hich a crimson 
carpet ran across the pavement to the very kerbstone, he 
could see a double hne of soldiers in the glittering white-and- 
silver of the Mauravanian Royal Guard , — plumed and hel- 
meted — standing with swords at salute waiting to receive 
him; and over the arched doorway the royal arms embla- 
zoned, and above them — picked out in winking gas-jets — 
a wreath of laurel surrounding the monogram M. R., which 
stood for Maximilian Rex, aflame against a marble back- 

^'Here we are at last, sir,'' said Narkom as the car stopped 
(he had learned, by this time, that ''Sire" belonged to the 
stage and the Middle Ages), and, aHghting, held back the 
door that Cleek might get out. 

Afterward he declared that that was the proudest mo- 
ment of his life; for if it was not the proudest of Cleek's, his 
looks belied him. For, as his foot touched the crimson car- 
pet, a band within swung into the stately measure of the 
Mauravanian National Anthem, an escort came down the 
hall and down the steps and lined up on either side of him, 
and if ever man looked proud of his inheritance, that man 
was he. 


He went on up the steps and down the long hall v/ith a 
chorus of ''Vivat Maximilian! Vivat le roi!" following 
him and the sound of the National Anthem ringing in his 
ears; then, all of a moment, the escort fell back, doors 
opened, he found himself in a room that blazed with lights, 
that echoed with the sound of many vivats, the stir of many 
bodies, and looking about saw that he was surrounded by a 
kneeling gathering and that one man in particular was at 
his feet, sobbing. 

He looked down and saw that that man was Irma, and 
smiled and put out his hand. 

The count bent over and touched it with his lips. 

^' Majesty, I never forgot ! Majesty, I worked for it, fought 
for it ever since that night ! " he said. "I would have fought 
for it ever if it need have been. But it was not. See, it was 
not. It was God's will and it was our people's." 

''My people's!" Cleek repeated, his head going back, his 
eyes lighting with a pride and a happiness beyond all tell- 
ing. ''Oh, Mauravania! Dear land. Dear country. Mine 

But hardly had the ecstasy of that thought laid its spell 
upon him when there came another not less divine, and his 
eyes went round the gathering in quest of one who should 
be here — at his side — to share this glorious moment with 

She had come for that purpose — Narkom had said so. 
Where was she, then? Why did she hold herself in the back- 
ground at such a time as this ? 

He saw her at that very moment. The gathering had 
risen and she with them — holding aloof at the far end of 
the room. There was a smile on her Kps, but even at that 
distance he could see that she was very, very pale and that 
there was a shadow of pain in her dear eyes. 

'^ We both have battled for an ideal, Count," he said, with 
a happy little laugh. "Here is mine. Here is what I have 


fought for! " and crossing the room he went straight to Ailsa, 
with both hands outstretched to her and his face fairly 

But it needed not the little shocked breath he heard upon 
all sides to dash that bright look from his face and to bring 
him to a sudden halt. For at his coming, Ailsa had dropped 
the deep curtsey which is the due of royalty, and was 
moving away from him backward, which is royalty's due 

*'Ailsa!" he said, moving toward her \^dth a sharp and 
sudden step. ''Ailsa, don't be absurd. It is too silly to 
think that forms should stand with you, too. Take my 
hand — take it!" 

''Your Majesty " 

"Take it, I tell you! " he repeated almost roughly. " Good 
God ! do you think that this can make any difference? Take 
my hand 1 Do you hear? " 

She obeyed him this time, but as her fingers rested upon 
his he saw that they were quite ringless — that the sign of 
their engagement had been removed — and caught her to 
him with a passionate sort of fierceness that was a reproach 
in itself. 

"Could you think so meanly of me? Could you?" he 
cried. " Wliere is the ring? " 

" In my pocket. I took it off when — I heard." 

"Put it on again. Or, no! Give it to me and let me do 
that myself — here, before them all. Kings must have 
queens, must they not? You were always mme: you are 
alwa3^s going to be. Even the day of our wedding is not 
to be changed." 

"Oh, hush!" she made answer. "One's duty to one's 
country must always stand first with — kings." 

"Must it? Kings after all are only men — and a man's 
first duty is to the one woman of his heart." 

"Not with kings. There is a different rule, a different 


law. Oh, let me- go — please! I know, I fully realize, it 
would be different with you — if it were possible. But — 
it is the penalty one must pay for kingship, dear. Royalty 
must mate with royalty, not with a woman of the people. 
It is the law of all kingdoms, the immutable law." 

It was. He had forgotten that; and it came upon him 
now with a shock of bitter recollection. For a moment he 
stood silent, the colour draining out of his face, the light 
fading slowly from his eyes; then, of a sudden, he looked 
over the glittering room and across its breadth at Irma. 

^'It would not be possible then?" he asked. 

"Not as a royal consort, sir. The people's choice in that 
respect would lie with the hereditary princess of Danubia. 
I have already explained that to Mademoiselle. But if it 
should be your Majesty's pleasure to take a morganatic 
wife " 

"Cut that!" rapped in Cleek's voice Hke the snap of a 
whiplash. "So, then, one is to sell one's honour for a crown; 
break a woman's life for a kingdom, and become a royal 
adulterer for the sake of a throne and sceptre!" 

"But, Majesty, one's duty to one's country is a sacred 

"Not so sacred as one's redeemer, Count, and, under 
God, here is mine!" he threw back, heatedly. "Maura-, 
vania forgot once; she will forget again. She must forget! 
My lords and gentlemen, I decHne her flattering offer. My 
only kingdom is here — in this dear woman's arms. Walk 
with me, Ailsa — walk with me always. You said you 
would. Walk with me, dear^ as my queen and my wife." 

And putting his arm about her and holding her close, 
and setting his back to the lights and the flags and the ght- 
tering Guard, he passed, with head erect, through the mur- 
muring gathering and went down and out with her — to 
the blue limousine — to the Yard's service again — and to 
those better things which are the true crown of a man's life. 


At the foot of the steps Narkom and Dollops caught up 
with hun, and the boy's eager hand plucked at his sleeve. 

"Guv'ner, Gawd love yer — Gawd love yer, sir; you're a 
man, you are ! " he said with a sort of sob in his voice. ''I'm 
glad you chucked it. It was breakin' my heart to think 
that I'd have to call you 'Sire' all the rest of my days, sir — 
like as if you was a bloomin' horse!" 




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At^K 1 4 1956 LL 









JUN 12 1958 X 

pec'D LO 


m '68-5 P'^ 


niM 11 1958 MAY Z 3 1973 ^9 


General Library 

University of California 




^ A 

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